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TO 

MY BROTHER 



> 



The Family of Stella M. 
Se Norman B. Scof ield 




STANFOfiD UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES 





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THE YELLOW 



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THE KING IN YELLOW 

icent squadrons of cruisers and battle -ships patrolled 
the six stations of the navigable seas^ leaving a steam 
reserve amply fitted to control home waters. The 
gentlemen from the West had at last been constrained 
to acknowledge that a coUege for the training of dip- 
lomats was as necessary as law schools are for the 
training of barristers; consequently we were no lon- 
ger represented abroad by incompetent patriots. The 
nation was prosperous. Chicago, for a moment para- 
lyzed after a second great fire, had risen from its ruins, 
white and imperial, and more beautiful than the white 
city which had been built for its plaything in 1893. 
Everywhere good architecture was replacing bad, and 
even in New York a sudden craving for decency had 
swept away a great portion of the existing horrors. 
Streets had been widened, properly paved, and lighted, 
trees had been planted, squares laid out, elevated 
structures demolished, and underground roads btiilt 
to replace them. The new government buildings 
and barracks were fine bits of architecture, and the 
long system of stone quays which completely sur- 
rounded the island had been turned into parks, which 
proved a godsend to the population. The subsidizing 
of the state theatre and state opera brought its own 
reward. The United States National Academy of 
Design was much like European institutions of the 
same kind. Nobody envied the Secretary of Fine 
Arts either his cabinet position or his portfolio. The 
Secretary of Forestry and Game Preservation had a 
much easier time, thanks to the new system of Na- 
tional Mounted Police. We had profited well by the 
latest treaties with France and England ; the exclusion 
of foreign-bom Jews as a measure of national self- 
preservation, the settlement of the new independent ne- 
gro state of Suanee, the checking of immigration, the 
new laws concerning naturalization, and the gradual 

4 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

first. When they picked me up from the pavement 
where I lay unconscious, and somebody had mercifully 
sent a bullet through my horse's head, I was carried 
to Dr. Archer, and he, pronouncing my brain affected, 
placed me in his private asylum, where I was obliged 
to endure treatment for insanity. At last he decided 
that I was well, and I, knowing that my mind had 
always been as sound as his, if not sounder, " paid my 
tuition," as he jokingly called it, and left. I told him, 
smiling, that I would get even with him for his mis- 
take, and he laughed heartily, and asked me to call 
once in a while. I did so, hoping for a chance to even 
up accounts, but he gave me none, and I told him I 
would wait. 

The fall from my horse had fortunately left no evil 
results; on the contrary, it had changed my whole 
character for the better. From a lazy young man 
about town, I had become active, energetic, temperate, 
and, above all — oh, above all else — ambitious. There 
was only one thing which troubled me : I laughed at 
my own uneasiness, and yet it troubled me. 

During my convalescence I had bought and read 
for the first time " The King in Yellow." I remember 
after finishing the first act that it occurred to me that 
I had better stop. I started up and flung the book 
into the fireplace; the volume struck the barred grate 
and fell open on the hearth in the fire-light. If I had 
not caught a glimpse of the opening words in the second 
act I should never have finished it, but as I stooped to 
pick it up my eyes became riveted to the open page, 
and with a cry of terror, or perhaps it was of joy so 
poignant that I suffered in every nerve, I snatched 
the thing from the hearth and crept shaking to my 
bedroom, where I read it and reread it, and wept and 
laughed and trembled with a horror which at times 
assails me yet. This is the thing that troubles me, for I 

6 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

C€umot forget Carcosa, where black stars hang in the 
heavens^ where the shadows of men's thoughts length- 
en in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into 
the Lake of Hali, and my mind will bear forever the 
memory of the PalHd Mask. I pray God will curse 
the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this 
beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, 
irresistible in its truth — a. world which now trembles 
before the King in Yellow. When the French govern- 
ment seized the translated copies which had just ar- 
rived in Paris, London, of course, became eager to 
read it. It is well known how the book spread like an 
infectious disease, from city to city, from continent 
to continent, barred out here, confiscated there, de- 
nounced by press and pulpit, censured even by the 
most advanced of Uterary anarchists. No definite 
principles had been violated in those wicked pages, 
no doctrine promulgated, no convictions outraged. 
It could not be judged by any known standard, yet, 
although it was acknowledged that the supreme note 
of art had been struck in " The King in Yellow,'' aJl 
felt that human nature could not bear the strain nor 
thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison 
lurked. The very banality and innocence of the first 
act only allowed the blow to fall afterwards with more 
awful effect. 

It was, I remember, the 13th day of April, 1920, 
that the first Government Lethal Chamber was es- 
tabhshed on the south side of Washington Square, 
between Wooster Street and South Fifth Avenue. 
The block, which had formerly consisted of a lot of 
shabby old buildings, used as caf^s and restaurants 
for foreigners, had been acquired by the government 
in the winter of 1913. The French and Italian caf6s 
and restaurants were torn down; the whole block was 
enclosed by a gilded iron railing, and converted into a 

7 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

lovely garden, with lawns, flowers, and fountains. In 
the centre of the garden stood a small, white building, 
severely classical in architecture, and surrounded by 
thickets of flowers. Six Ionic columns supported the 
roof, and the single door was of bronze. A splendid 
marble group of "The Fates" stood before the door, 
the work of a young American sculptor, Boris Yvain, 
who had died in Paris when only twenty-three years 
old. 

The inauguration ceremonies were in progress as I 
crossed University Place and entered the square. I 
threaded my way through the silent throng of specta- 
tors, but was stopped at Fourth Street by a cordon of 
police. A regiment of United States Lancers were 
drawn up in a hollow square around the Lethal Cham- 
ber. On a raised tribune facing Washington Park 
stood the Governor of New York, and behind him 
were grouped the Mayor of Greater New York, the 
Inspector-General of Police, the commandant of the 
State troops. Colonel Livingston (military aid to the 
President of the United States), General Blount (com- 
manding at Governor's Island), Major-General Ham- 
ilton (commanding the garrison of Greater New York), 
Admiral Buff by (of the fleet in the North River), Sur- 
geon-General Lanceford, the staff of the National Free 
Hospital, Senators Wyse and Franklin, of New York, 
and the Conmiissioner of Public Works. The tribune 
was surrounded by a squadron of hussars of the Na- 
tional Guard. 

The Governor was finishing his reply to the short 
speech of the Surgeon-General. I heard him say: 
"The laws prohibiting suicide and providing punish- 
ment for any attempt at self-destruction have been 
repealed. The government has seen fit to acknowl- 
edge the right of man to end an existence which may 
have become intolerable to him, through physical 

8 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

sufiFering or mental despair. It is believed that the 
community will be benefited by the removal of such 
people from their midst. Since the passage of this law, 
the number of suicides in the United States has not 
increased. Now that the government has determined 
to establish a Lethal Chamber in every city, town, and 
village in the country, it remains to be seen whether 
or not that class of human creatures from whose de- 
sponding ranks new victims of self-destruction fall 
daily will accept the rehef thus provided." He paused, 
and turned to the white Lethal Chamber. The silence 
in the street was absolute. "There a painless death 
awaits him who can no longer bear the sorrows of 
this life. If death is welcome, let him seek it there." 
Then, quickly turning to the military aid of the Presi- 
dent's household, he said, " I declare the Lethal Cham- 
ber open "; and again facing the vast crowd, he cried, 
in a clear voice : " Citizens of New York and of the 
United States of America, through me the govern- 
ment declares the Lethal Chamber to be open." 

The solemn hush was broken by a sharp cry of com- 
mand, the squadron of hussars filed after the Govern- 
or's carriage, the lancers wheeled and formed along 
Fifth Avenue to wait for the commandant of the gar- 
rison, and the mounted police followed them. I left 
the crowd to gape and stare at the white marble 
death-chamber, and, crossing South Fifth Avenue, 
walked along the western side of that thoroughfare 
to Bleecker Street. Then I turned to the right and 
stopped before a dingy shop which bore the sign, 

Hawberk, Armorer. 

I glanced in at the door-way and saw Hawberk busy 
in his little shop at the end of the hall. He looked up, 
and, catching sight of me, cried, in his deep, hearty voice, 

9 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

"Come in, Mr. Castaignel" Constance, his daughter, 
rose to meet me as I crossed the threshold, and held 
out her pretty hand, but I saw the blush of disappoint- 
ment on her cheeks, and knew that it was another 
Castaigne she had expected, my cousin Louis. I 
smiled at her confusion and complimented her on the 
banner which she was embroidering from a colored 
plate. Old Hawberk sat riveting the worn greaves 
of some ancient suit of armor, and the tingl ting I tingl 
of his little hammer sounded pleasantly in the quaint 
shop. Presently he dropped his hammer and fussed 
about for a moment with a tiny wrench. The soft 
clash of the mail sent a thrill of pleasure through me. 
I loved to hear the music of steel brushing against 
steel, the mellow shock of the mallet on thigh-pieces, 
and the jingle of chain armor. That was the only 
reason I went to see Hawberk. He had never inter- 
ested me personally, nor did Constance, except for the 
fact of her being in love with Louis. This did occupy 
my attention, and sometimes even kept me awake at 
night. But I knew in my heart that all would come 
right, and that I should arrange their future as I ex- 
pected to arrange that of my kind doctor, John Archer. 
However, I should never have troubled myself about 
visiting them just then had it not been, as I say, that 
the music of the tinkling hammer had for me this strong 
fascination. I would sit for hours, listening and hs- 
tening, and when a stray sunbeam struck the inlaid 
steel, the sensation it gave me was almost too keen to 
endure. My eyes would become fixed, dilating with 
a pleasure that stretched every nerve almost to break- 
ing, until some movement of the old armorer cut oflE 
the ray of sunlight, then, stiU thrilling secretly, I leaned 
back and listened again to the sound of the polishing 
rag — swish I swish I — rubbing rust from the rivets. 
Constance worked with the embroidery over her 

10 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

knees, now and then pausing to examine more closely 
the pattern in the colored plate from the Metropolitan 
Museum. 

"Who is this for?" I asked. 

Hawberk explained that in addition to the treasures 
of armor in the Metropolitan Museum, of which he had 
been appointed armorer, he also had charge of several 
collections belonging to rich amateurs. This was 
the missing greave of a famous suit which a client of 
his had traced to a little shop in Paris on the Quai 
d'Orsay. He, Hawberk, had negotiated for and se- 
cured the greave, and now the suit was complete. He 
laid down his hammer and read me the history of the 
suit, traced since 1450 from owner to owner until it was 
acquired by Thomas Stainbridge. When his superb 
collection was sold, this client of Hawberk's bought 
the suit, and since then the search for the missing 
greave had been pushed until it was, almost by acci- 
dent, located in Paris. 

"Did you continue the search so persistently with- 
out any certainty of the greave being still in exist- 
ence?" I demanded. 

"Of course," he replied, coolly. 

Then for the first time I took a personal interest in 
Hawberk. 

It was worth something to you," I ventured. 
No," he replied, laughing, " my pleasure in finding 
it was my reward." 

" Have you no ambition to be rich?" I asked, smiling. 

"My one ambition is to be the best armorer in the 
world," he answered, gravely. 

Constance asked me if I had seen the ceremonies at 
the Lethal Chamber. She herself had noticed cavalry 
passing up Broadway that morning, and had wished 
to see the inauguration, but her father wanted the 
banner finished, and she had stayed at his request. 

II 






THE KING IN YELLOW 

"Did you see your cousin, Mr. Castaigne, there?" 
she asked, with the slightest tremor of her soft eye- 
lashes. 

"No/' I replied, carelessly. "Louis' regiment is 
mancBUvring out in Westchester County." I rose 
and picked up my hat and cane. 

"Are you going up-stairs to see the lunatic again?" 
laughed old Hawberk. If Hawberk knew how I loathe 
that word "lunatic," he would never use it in my pres- 
ence. It rouses certain feelings within me which I 
do not care to explain. However, I answered him 
quietly : 

" I think 1 shall drop in and see Mr. Wilde for a mo- 
ment or two." 

"Poor fellow," said Constance, with a shake of her 
head, "it must be hard to live alone year after year, 
poor, crippled, and almost demented. It is very good 
of you, Mr. Castaigne, to visit him as often as you do." 

"I think he is vicious," observed Hawberk, begin- 
ning again with, his hammer. I listened to the golden 
tinkle on the greave-plates; when he had finished I 
replied : 

" No, he is not vicious, nor is he in the least demented. 
His mind is a wonder chamber, from which he can 
extract treasures that you and I would give years of 
our lives to acquire." 

Hawberk laughed. 

I continued, a little impatiently : " He knows history 
as no one else could know it. Nothing, however triv- 
ial, escapes his search, and his memory is so absolute, 
so precise in details, that were it known in New York 
that such a man existed the people could not honor 
him enough." 

"Nonsense I" muttered Hawberk, searching on the 
floor for a fallen rivet. 

" Is it nonsense," I asked, managing to suppress what 

12 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

I felt — "is it nonsense when he says that the tassets 
and cuissards of the enamelled suit of armor commonly 
known as the 'Prince's Emblazoned' can be found 
among a mass of rusty theatrical properties, broken 
stoves, and rag-picker's refuse in a garret in Pell 
Street?" 

Hawberk's hammer fell to the ground, but he picked 
it up and asked, with a great deal of calm, how I knew 
that the tassets and left cuissard were missing from 
the "Prince's Emblazoned." 

"I did not know until Mr. Wilde mentioned it to 
me the other day. He said they were in the garret of 
998 Pell Street." 

"Nonsense I" he cried; but I noticed his hand trem- 
bling under his leathern apron. 

"Is this nonsense, too?" I asked, pleasantly. "Is it 
nonsense when Mr. Wilde continually speaks of you 
as the Marquis of Avonshire, and of Miss Constance — " 

I did not finish, for Constance had started to her 
feet with terror written on every feature. Hawberk 
looked at me and slowly smoothed his leathern apron. 
"That is impossible," he observed. "Mr. Wilde may 
know a great many things — " 

"About armor, for instance, and the 'Prince's Em- 
blazoned,'" I interposed, smiling. 

"Yes," he continued, slowly, "about armor also — 
maybe — but he is wrong in regard to the Marquis of 
Avonshire, who, as you know, killed his wife's tra- 
ducer years ago, and went to Australia, where he did 
not long survive his wife." 

"Mr. Wilde is wrong," murmured Constance. Her 
lips were blanched, but her voice was sweet and calm. 

"Let us agree, if you please, that in this one cir- 
cumstance Mr. Wilde is wrong," I said. 



n 

I CLIMBED the three dilapidated flights of stairs 
which I had so often chmbed before^ and knocked 
at a small door at the end of the corridor. Mr. Wilde 
opened the door and I walked in. 

When he had double-locked the door and pushed a 
heavy chest against it, he came and sat down beside 
me, peering up into my face with his little, light-col- 
ored eyes. Half a dozen new scratches covered his 
nose and cheeks, and the silver wires which supported 
his artificial ears had become displaced. I thought I 
had never seen him so hideously fascinating. He 
had no ears. The artificial ones, which now stood 
out at an angle from the fine wire, were his one weak- 
ness. They were made of wax and painted a shell 
pink; but the rest of his face was yellow. He might 
better have revelled in the luxury of some artificial 
fingers for his left hand, which was absolutely finger- 
less, but it seemed to cause him no inconvenience, and 
he was satisfied with his wax ears. He was very small, 
scarcely higher than a child of ten, but his arms were 
magnificently developed, and his thighs as thick as 
any athlete's. Still, the most remarkable thing about 
Mr. Wilde was that a man of his marvellous intelligence 
and knowledge should have such a head. It was 
flat and pointed, like the heads of many of those un- 
fortunates whom people imprison in asylums for the 
weak-minded. Many called him insane, but I knew 
him to be as sane as I was. 

14 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

I do not deny that he was eccentric; the mania he 
had for keeping that cat and teasing her until she 
flew at his face Uke a demon was certainly eccentric. 
I never could understand why he kept the creature, 
nor what pleasure he found in shutting himself up 
in his room with the surly, vicious beast. I remem- 
ber once glancing up from the manuscript I was study- 
ing by the light of some tallow dips and seeing Mr. 
Wilde squatting motionless on his high chair, his eyes 
fairly blazing with excitement, while the cat, which 
had risen from her place before the stove, came creep- 
ing across the floor right at him. Before I could move 
she flattened her belly to the ground, crouched, trem- 
bled, and sprang into his face. Howling and foam- 
ing, they rolled over and over on the floor, scratching 
and clawing, until the cat screamed and fled under the 
cabinet, and Mr. Wilde turned over on his back, his 
limbs contracting and curling up like the legs of a 
dying spider. He tdxis eccentric. 

Mr. Wilde had climbed into his high chair, and, 
after studying my face, picked up a dog's-eared ledger 
and opened it. 

"Henry B. Matthews,'' he read, "book-keeper with 
Whysot Whysot & Company, dealers in church or- 
naments. Called April 3d. Reputation damaged on 
the race-track. Known as a welcher. Reputation 
to be repaired by August ist. Retainer, Five Dol- 
lars." He turned the page and ran his fingerless 
knuckles down the closely written columns. 

"P. Greene Dusenberry, Minister of the Gospel, 
Fairbeach, New Jersey. Reputation damaged in the 
Bowery. To be repaired as soon as possible. Re- 
tainer, $100." 

He coughed and added, "Called, April 6th." 

"Then you are not in need of money, Mr. Wilde," 
I inquired. 

15 



THE KING IN YELLOW 






Listen " — he coughed again. 
Mrs. C. Hamilton Chester, of Chester Park, New 
York City, called April 7th. Reputation damaged at 
Dieppe, France. To be repaired by October ist. Re- 
tainer, $500. 

"Note. — C. Hamilton Chester, Captain U.S.S. Avar 
lanche, ordered home from South Sea Squadron Oc- 
tober 1st." 

"Well," I said, "the profession of a Repairer of 
Reputations is lucrative." 

His colorless eyes sought mine. "I only wanted 
to demonstrate that I was correct. You said it was 
impossible to succeed as a Repairer of Reputations; 
that even if I did succeed in certain cases, it would cost 
me more than I would gain by it. To-day I have five 
hundred men in my employ, who are poorly paid, but 
who pursue the work with an enthusiasm which possi- 
bly may be bom of fear. These men enter every shade 
and grade of society ; some even are pillars of the most 
exclusive social temples; others are the prop and pride 
of the financial world; still others hold undisputed 
sway among the 'Fancy and the Talent.' I choose 
them at my leisure from those who reply to my ad- 
vertisements. It is easy enough — they are all cowards. 
I could treble the number in twenty days if I wished. 
So, you see, those who have in their keeping the repu- 
tations of their fellow-citizens, / have in my pay." 

" They may turn on you," I suggested. 

He rubbed his thumb over his cropped ears and 
adjusted the wax substitutes. " I think not," he mur- 
mured, thoughtfully, "I seldom have to apply the 
whip, and then only once. Besides, they like their 
wages." 

" How do you apply the whip?" I demanded. 

His face for a moment was awful to look upon. His 
eyes dwindled to a pair of green sparks. 

16 



ti 
it 
it 
it 



it 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

" I invite them to come and have a little chat with 
me/' he said, in a soft voice. 

A knock at the door interrupted him, and his face 
resumed its amiable expression. 
Who is it?" he inquired. 
Mr. Steylette/' was the answer. 
Come to-morrow/' replied Mr. Wilde. 
Impossible/' began the other; but was silenced by 
a sort of bark from Mr. Wilde. 
"Come to-morrow/' he repeated. 
We heard somebody move away from the door and 
turn the comer by the stair-way. 
Who is that?" I asked 

Arnold Steylette, owner and editor-in-chief of the 
great New York daily." 

He drummed on the ledger with his fingerless hand, 
adding, " I pay him very badly, but he thinks it a good 
bargain." 

Arnold Steylettel" I repeated, amazed. 
Yes," said Mr. Wilde, with a self-satisfied cough. 
The cat, which had entered the room as he spoke, 
hesitated, looked up at him, and snarled. He climbed 
down from the chair, and, squatting on the floor, took 
the creatiu-e into his arms and caressed her. The cat 
ceased snarUng and presently began a loud purring, 
which seemed to increase in timbre as he stroked her. 
"Where are the notes?" I asked. He pointed to the 
table, and for the hundredth time I picked up the bun- 
dle of manuscript entitled 

"The Imperial Dynasty of America/' 

One by one I studied the well-worn pages, worn 

only by my own handling, and, although I knew all 

by heart, from the beginning, "When from Carcosa, 

the Hyades, Hastur, and Aldebaran," to "Castaigne, 

3 17 



4t 
it 



€t 
tt 

it 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

Louis de Calvados, bom December 19, 1887/' I read it 
with an eager, rapt attention, pausing to repeat parts 
of it aloud, and dwelling especially on "Hildred de 
Calvados, only son of Hildred Castaigne and Edythe 
Landes Castaigne, first in succession," etc., etc. 

When I finished, Mr. Wilde nodded and coughed. 
Speaking of your legitimate ambition," he said^ 

how do Constance and Louis get along?" 
She loves him," I replied, simply. 

The cat on his knee suddenly turned and struck at 
his eyes, and he flung her off and cUmbed on to the 
chair opposite me. 

"And Dr. Archer? But that's a matter you can 
settle any time you wish," he added. 

"Yes," I replied, "Dr. Archer can wait, but it is 
time I saw my cousin Louis." 

"It is time," he repeated. Then he took another 
ledger from the table and ran over the leaves rapidly. 

" We are now in communication with ten thousand 
men," he muttered. " We can count on one hundred 
thousand within the first twenty-eight hours, and 
in forty-eight hoiu-s the State will rise en masse. The 
country follows the State, and the portion that will 
not, I mean California and the Northwest, might better 
never have been inhabited. I shall not send them 
the Yellow Sign." 

The blood rushed to my head, but I only answered, 
A new broom sweeps clean." 
The ambition of Csesar and of Napoleon pales 
before that which could not rest until it had seized the 
minds of men and controlled even their unborn 
thoughts," said Mr. Wilde. 

" You are speaking of the King in Yellow," I groaned, 
with a shudder. 

He is a king whom emperors have served." 
I am content to serve him," I repHed. 

18 



tt 



tt 
tt 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

Mr. Wilde sat rubbing his ears with his crippled 
hand. "Perhaps Constance does not love him/' he 
suggested. 

I started to reply, but a sudden burst of military 
music from the street below drowned my voice. The 
Twentieth Dragoon Regiment, formerly in garrison at 
Mount St. Vincent, was returning from the manoeuvres 
in Westchester County to its new barracks on East 
Washington Square. It was my cousin's regiment. 
They were a fine lot of fellows, in their pale-blue, 
tight-fitting jackets, jaunty busbies, and white riding- 
breeches, with the double yellow stripe, into which their 
limbs seemed moulded. Every other squadron was 
armed with lances, from the metal points of which flut- 
tered yellow - and - white pennons. The band passed, 
playing the regimental march, then came the colonel 
and staff, the horses crowding and trampling, while 
their heads bobbed in unison, and the pennons fluttered 
from their lance points. The troopers, who rode with 
the beautiful English seat, looked brown as berries 
from their bloodless diampaign among the farms of 
Westchester, and the music of their sabres against the 
stirrups, and the jingle of spurs and carbines was de^ 
Ughtf ul to me. I saw Louis riding with his squadron. 
He was as handsome an officer as I have ever seen. 
Mr. Wilde, who had mounted a chair by the window, 
saw him, too, but said nothing. Louis turned and 
looked straight at Hawberk's shop as he passed, and 
I could see the flush on his brown cheeks. I think 
Constance must have been at the window. When 
the last troopers had clattered by, and the last pen- 
nons vanished into South Fifth Avenue, Mr. Wilde 
clambered out of his chair and dragged the chest away 
from the door. 

" Yes," he said, "it is time that you saw your cousin 
Louis." 

19 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

He unlocked the door and I picked up my hat and 
stick and stepped into the corridor. The stedrs were 
dark. Groping about, I set my foot on something soft, 
which snarled and spit, and I aimed a murderous blow 
at the cat, but my cane shivered to splinters against 
the balustrade, and the beast scurried back into Mr. 
Wilde's room. 

Passing Hawberk's door again, I saw him still at 
work on the armor, but I did not stop, and, stepping 
out into Bleecker Street, I followed it to Wooster, skirt- 
ed the grounds of the Lethal Chamber, and, cross- 
ing Washington Park, went straight to my rooms in 
the Benedick. Here I lunched comfortably, read the 
Herald and the Meteor, and finally went to the steel 
safe in my bedroom and set the time combination. 
The three and three-quarter minutes which it is neces- 
sary to wait, while the time lock Is opening, are to 
me golden moments. From the instant I set the com- 
bination to the moment when I grasp the knobs and 
swing back the solid steel doors, I live in an esctasy 
of expectation. Those moments must be like moments 
passed in paradise. I know what I am to find at the 
end of the time limit. I know what the massive safe 
holds secure for me, for me alone, and the exquisite 
pleasure of waiting is hardly enhanced when the safe 
opens and I lift, from its velvet crown, a diadem of 
purest gold, blazing with diamonds. I do this every 
day, and yet the joy of waiting and at last touching 
again the diadem only seems to increase as the days 
pass. It is a diadem fit for a king among kings, an 
emperor among emperors. The King in Yellow might 
scorn it, but it shall be worn by his royal servant. 

I held it in my arms until the alarm on the safe rang 
harshly, and then tenderly, proudly I replaced it and 
shut the steel doors. I walked slowly back into my 
study, which faces Washington Square, and leaned 

20 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

on the window-sill. The afternoon sun poured into 
my windows, and a gentle breeze stirred the branches 
of the elms and maples in the park, now covered with 
buds and tender foliage. A flock of pigeons circled 
about the tower of the Memorial Church; sometimes 
alighting on the purple-tiled roof, sometimes wheeling 
downward to the lotos fountain in front of the marble 
arch. The gardeners were busy with the flower-beds 
around the fountain, and the freshly turned earth 
smelled sweet and spicy. A lawn-mower, drawn by 
a fat, white horse, clinked across the greensward, 
and watering-carts poured showers of spray over the 
asphalt drives. Around the statue of Peter Stuyvesant, 
which in 1906 had replaced the monstrosity supposed 
to represent Garibaldi, children played in the spring 
sunshine, and nurse girls wheeled elaborate baby- 
carriages with a reckless disregard for the pasty-faced 
occupants, which could probably be explained by the 
presence of half a dozen trim dragoon troopers lan- 
guidly lolling on the benches. Through the trees 
the Washington Memorial Arch glistened like silver 
in the sunshine, and beyond, on the eastern extremity 
of the square, the gray-stone barracks of the dragoons 
and the white-granite artillery stables were alive with 
color and motion. 

I looked at the Lethal Chamber on the comer of 
the square opposite. A few curious people still lingered 
about the gilded iron railing, but inside the grounds 
the paths were deserted. I watched the fountains 
ripple and sparkle; the sparrows had already found 
this new bathing nook, and the basins were crowded 
with the dusty-feathered little things. Two or three 
white peacocks picked their way across the lawns, 
and a drab-colored pigeon sat so motionless on the 
arm of one of the Fates that it seemed to be a part of 
the sculptured stone. 

21 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

As I was turning cardessly away, a slight commo- 
tion in the group of curious loiterers around the gates 
attracted my attention. A young man had entered, 
and was advancing with nervous strides along the 
gravel path which leads to the bronze doors of the 
Lethal Chamber. He paused a moment before the 
Fates, and as he raised his head to those three mys- 
terious faces, the pigeon rose from its sculptured perch, 
circled about for a moment, and wheeled to the east. 
The young man pressed his hands to his face, and then, 
with an undefinable gesture, sprang up the marble 
steps, the bronze doors closed behind him, and half an 
hour later the loiterers slouched away and the fright- 
ened pigeon returned to its perch in the arms of Fate. 

I put on my hat and went out into the park for a Uttle 
walk before dinner. As I crossed the central drive- 
way a group of officers passed, and one of them called 
out, " Hello, Hildred I ** and came back to shake hands 
with me. It was my cousin Louis, who stood smiling 
and tapping his spurred heels with his riding-whip. 

"Just back from Westchester," he said; "been 
doing the bucolic ; milk and curds, you know ; dairy- 
maids in sunbonnets, who say 'haeow' and 'I don't 
think ' when you tell them they are pretty. Fm nearly 
dead for a square meal at Delmonico's. \^^iat's the 
news?*' 

" There is none," I replied, pleasantly. " I saw your 
regiment coming in this morning." 

"Did you? I didn't see you. Where were you?" 
In Mr. Wilde's window." 

Oh, hell I" he began, impatiently, "that man is 
stark mad! I don't understand why you — " 

He saw how annoyed I felt by this outburst, and 
begged my pardon. 

"Really, old chap," he said, "I don't mean to run 
down a man you like, but for the life of me I can't see 

22 



tt 
ft 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

what the deuce you find in common with Mr. Wilde. 
He's not well bred, to put it generously; he's hideously 
deformed; his head is the head of a criminally insane 
person. You know yourself he's been in an asylum — " 

" So have I," I interrupted, calmly. 

Louis looked startled and confused for a moment, 
but recovered and slapped me heartily on the shoulder. 

" You were completely cured/' he began ; but I stopped 
him again. 

"I suppose you mean that I was simply acknowl- 
edged never to have been insane." 

"Of course that — that's what I meant/' he laughed. 

I disliked his laugh, because I knew it was forced; 
but I nodded gayly and asked him where he was going. 
Louis looked after his brother officers, who had now 
almost reached Broadway. 

'* We had intended to sample a Brunswick cocktail, 
but, to tell you the truth, I was anxious for an excuse to 
go and see Hawberk instead. Come along; I'll make 
you my excuse." 

We found old Hawberk, neatly attired in a fresh 
spring suit, standing at the door of his shop and sniff- 
ing the air. 

"I had just decided to take Constance for a little 
stroll before dinner," he replied to the impetuous volley 
of questions from Louis. ''We thought of walking 
on the park terrace along the North River." 

At that moment Constance appeared and grew pale 
and rosy by turns as Louis bent over her small, gloved 
fingers. I tried to excuse myself, alleging an engage- 
ment up-town, but Louis and Constance would not 
listen, and I saw I was expected to remain and engage 
old Hawberk's attention. After all, it would be just 
as well if I kept my eye on Louis, I thought, and, when 
they hailed a Spring Street electric-car, I got in after 
them and took my seat beside the armorer. 

23 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

The beautiful line of parks, and granite terraces 
overlooking the wharves along the North River, which 
were built in 1910 and finished in the autumn of 1917, 
had become one of the most popular promenades in 
the metropolis. They extended from the Battery to 
One Hundred and Ninetieth Street, overlooking the 
noble river, and affording a fine view of the Jersey 
shore and the Highlands opposite. Caf^s and restau- 
rants were scattered here and there among the trees, 
and twice a week military bands from the garrison 
played in the kiosques on the parapets. 

We sat down in the sunshine on the bench at the 
foot of the equestrian statue of General Sheridan. 
Constance tipped her sunshade to shield her eyes, 
and she and Louis began a murmuring conversation 
which was impossible to catch. Old Hawberk, lean- 
ing on his ivory-headed cane, lighted an excellent 
cigar, the mate to which I politely refused, and smiled 
at vacancy. The sun hung low above the Staten 
Island woods, and the bay was dyed with golden hues 
reflected from the sun-warmed sails of the shipping 
in the harbor. 

Brigs, schooners, yachts, clumsy ferry-boats, their 
decks swarming with people, railroad transports car- 
rying lines of brown, blue, and white freight-cars, 
stately Sound steamers, d^class^ tramp steamers, 
coasters, dredgers, scows, and everywhere pervading 
the entire bay impudent little tugs puffing and whist- 
ling officiously — these were the craft which churned 
the sunlit waters as far as the eye could reach. In 
calm contrast to the hurry of sailing vessel and steamer, 
a silent fleet of white war-ships lay motionless in mid- 
stream. 

Constance's merry laugh aroused me from my rev- 



ene. 

4t 



What are you staring at?" she inquired. 

24 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

"Nothing— the fleet." I smiled. 

Then Louis told us what the vessels were, pointing 
out each by its relative position to the old red fort on 
Governor's Island. 

''That little cigar-shaped thing is a torpedo-boat/' 
he explained; "there are four more lying close to- 
gether. They are the Tarpon, the Falcon, the Sea 
Fox, and the Octopus, The gunboats just above are 
the Princeton, the Champlain, the Still Water, and the 
Erie. Next to them lie the cruisers Farragut and 
Los Angeles, and above them the battle-ships California 
and Dakota, and the Washinfion, which is the flag- 
ship. Those two squatty -looking chunks of metal 
which are anchored there off Castle William are the 
double-turreted monitors Terrible and Magnificent; 
behind them lies the ram Osceola, " 

Constance looked at him with deep approval in her 
beautiful eyes. " What loads of things you know for 
a soldier/' she said, and we all joined in the laugh 
which followed. 

Presently Louis rose with a nod to us and offered 
his arm to Constance, and they strolled away along 
the river-wall. Hawberk watched them for a moment, 
and then turned to me. 

"Mr. Wilde was right," he said. "I have found 
the missing tassets and left cuissard of the 'Prince's 
Emblazoned,' in a vile old jimk garret in Pell Street." 

"998?" I inquired, with a smile. 

"Yes." 
Mr. Wilde is a very intelligent man," I observed. 
I want to give him the credit of this most im- 
portant discovery," continued Hawberk. "And I in- 
tend it shall be known that he is entitled to the fame 
of it." 

He won't thank you for that," I answered, sharply; 
please say nothing about it." 

25 






ii 
n 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



ft 
fi 



Do you know what it is worth?" said Hawberk. 
No — fifty dollars, perhaps." 

"It is valued at five hundred, but the owner of the 
'Prince's Emblazoned' will give two thousand dollars 
to the person who completes his suit; that reward 
also belongs to Mr. Wilde." 

"He doesn't want it! He refuses it!" I answered, 
angrily. " What do you know about Mr. Wilde? He 
doesn't need the money. He is rich — or will be — 
richer than any living man except myself. What will 
we care for money then — what will we care, he and 
I, when — when — " 

"When what?" demanded Hawberk, astonished. 

"You will see," I replied, on my guard again. 

He looked at me narrowly, much as Dr. Archer 
used to, and I knew he thought I was mentally un- 
sound. Perhaps it was fortunate for him that he 
did not use the word lunatic just then. 

"No," I replied to his unspoken thought, "I am 
not mentally weak; my mind is as healthy as Mr. 
Wilde's. I do not care to explain just yet what I have 
on hand, but it is an investment which will pay more 
than mere gold, silver, and precious stones. It will 
secure the happiness and prosperity of a continent 
— yes, a hemisphere!" 

"Oh," said Hawberk. 

"And eventually," I continued, more quietly, "it 
will secure the happiness of the whole world." 

"And incidentally your own happiness and pros- 
perity as well as Mr. Wilde's?" 

"Exactly." I smiled, but I could have throttled 
him for taking that tone. 

He looked at me in silence for a while, and then said, 
very gently: "Why don't you give up your books and 
studies, Mr. Castaigne, and take a tramp among the 
mountains somewhere or other? You used to be 

26 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

fond of fishing. Take a cast or two at the trout in 
the Rangelys." 

"I don't care for fishing any more/' I answered, 
without a shade of annoyance in my voice. 

" You used to be fond of everything/' he continued — 
"athletics, yachting, shooting, riding — " 

"I have never cared to ride since my fall," I said, 
quietly. 

"Ah, yes, your fall/' he repeated, looking away 
from me. 

I thought this nonsense had gone far enough, so 
I turned the conversation back to Mr. Wilde; but he 
was scanning my face again in a manner highly of- 
fensive to me. 

"Mr. Wilde," he repeated; "do you know what he 
did this afternoon? He came down-stairs and nailed 
a sign over the hall door next to mine; it read: 

Mr. Wilde, 
Repairer op Reputations. 

3d BeU. 

Do you know what a Repairer of Reputations can be?" 

"I do," I replied, suppressing the rage within. 

"Oh," he said again. 

Louis and Constance came strolling by and stopped 
to ask if we would join them. Hawberk looked at 
his watch. At the same moment a puff of smoke 
shot from the casemates of Castle William, and the 
boom of the sunset gun rolled across the water and 
was re-echoed from the Highlands opposite. The 
flag came running down from the flag-pole, the bugles 
sounded on the white decks of the war-ships, and the 
first electric light sparkled out from the Jersey shore. 

As I turned into tiie city with Hawberk I heard Con- 
stance murmur something to Louis which I did not 

27 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

understand; but Louis whispered "My darlingl" in re- 
ply ; and again, walking ahead with Hawberk through 
the square, I heard a murmur of "sweetheartl'' and 
"my own 0)nstancel" and I knew the time had nearly 
arrived when I should speak of important matters with 
my cousin Louis. 



Ill 

ONE morning early in May I stood before the steel 
safe in my bedroom, trying on the golden jewelled 
crown. The diamonds flashed fire as I turned to the 
mirror^ and the heavy beaten gold burned like a halo 
about my head. I remembered Camilla's agonized 
scream and the awful words echoing through the dim 
streets of Carcosa. They were the last lines in the 
first act, and I dared not think of what followed — dared 
not, even in the spring sunshine, there in my own room, 
surrounded with familiar objects, reassured by the 
bustle from the street and the voices of the servants 
in the hall -way outside. For those poisoned words 
had dropped slowly into my heart, as death-sweat 
drops upon a bed-sheet and is absorbed. Trembling, 
I put the diadem from my head and wiped my fore- 
head, but I thought of Hastur and of my own rightful 
ambition, and I remembered Mr. Wilde as I had last 
left him, his face all torn and bloody from the claws 
of that devil's creature, and what he said — ah, what 
he said I The alarm-bell in the safe began to whir 
harshly, and I knew my time was up; but I would not 
heed it, and, replacing the flashing circlet upon my 
head, I turned defiantly to the mirror. I stood for a 
long time absorbed in the changing expression of 
my own eyes. The mirror reflected a face which was 
like my own, but whiter, and so thin that I hardly rec- 
ognized it. And all the time I kept repeating be- 
tween my clinched teeth, "The day has come! the 

29 



tt 

tt 

tt 

tt 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

day has cornel" while the alarm in the safe whirred 
and clamored, and the diamonds sparkled and flamed 
above my brow. I heard a door open, but did not heed 
it. It was only when I saw two faces in the mirror; 
it was only when another face rose over my shoulder, 
and two other eyes met mine. I wheeled like a flash 
and seized a long knife from my dressing-table, and 
my cousin sprang back very pale, crying: "Hildredl 
for God's sake!" Then, as my hand fell, he said: "It 
is I, Louis; don't you know me?" I stood silent. I 
could not have spoken for my life. He walked up to 
me and took the knife from my hand. 

What is all this?" he inquired, in a gentle voice. 

Are you ill?" 
No," I replied. But I doubt if he heard me. 
Come, come, old fellow," he cried, "take off that 
brass crown and toddle into the study. Are you going 
to a masquerade? What's all this theatrical tinsel 
anyway?" 

I was glad he thought the crown was made of brass 
and paste, yet I didn't like him any the better for think- 
ing so. I let him take it from my hand, knowing it 
was best to humor him. He tossed the splendid dia- 
dem in the air, and, catching it, turned to me smiling. 

"It's dear at fifty cents," he said. "What's it 
for?" 

I did not answer, but took the circlet from his hands, 
and, placing it in the safe, shut the massive steel door. 
The alarm ceased its infernal din at once. He watched 
me curiously, but did not seem to notice the sudden 
ceasing of the alarm. He did, however, speak of the 
safe as a biscuit-box. Fearing lest he might examine 
the combination, I led the way into my study. Louis 
threw himself on the sofa and flicked at flies with his 
eternal riding-whip. He wore his fatigue uniform, 
with the braided jacket and jaunty cap, and I noticed 

30 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

that his riding - boots were all splashed with red 
mud. 

''Where have you been?'' I inquired. 

"Jumping mud creeks in Jersey/' he said. "I 
haven't had time to change yet ; I was rather in a hurry 
to see you. Haven't you got a glass of something? 
I'm dead tired; been in the saddle twenty-four hours." 

I gave him some brandy from my medicinal store, 
which he drank with a grimace. 

"Damned bad stufiF," he observed. "I'll give you 
an address where they sell brandy that is brandy." 

"It's good enough for my needs/' I said, indiffer- 
ently. "I use it to rub my chest with." He stared 
and flicked at another fly. 

"See here, old fellow," he began, "I've got some- 
thing to suggest to you. It's four years now that you've 
shut yourself up here Uke an owl, never going any- 
where, never taking any healthy exercise, never doing 
a damn thing but poring over those books up there on 
the mantel-piece." 

He glanced along the row of shelves. "Napoleon, 
Napoleon, Napoleon 1" he read. "For Heaven's sake, 
have you nothing but Napoleons there?" 

"I wish they were boimd in gold," I said. "But 
wait — ^yes, there is another book, 'The King in Yel- 
low ' " I looked him steadily in the eye. 

"Have you never read it?" I asked. 

"I? No, thank Godl I don't want to be driven 
crazy/' 

I saw he regretted his speech as soon as he had uttered 
it. There is only one word which I loathe more than I 
do lunatic, and that word is crazy. But I controlled 
myself and asked him why he thought " The King in 
Yellow" dangerous. 

"Oh, I don't know," he said, hastily. "I only re- 
member the excitement it created and the denimcia- 

31 



ft 



(t 
it 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

tions from pulpit and press. 1 believe the author shot 
himself after bringing forth this monstrosity, didn't 
he?" 

I understand he is still alive/' 1 answered. 
That's probably true," he muttered; "bullets 
couldn't kill a fiend like that." 

It is a book of great truths," I said. 
Yes," he replied, "of 'truths' which send men 
frantic and blast their lives. I don't care if the thing 
is, as they say, the very supreme essence of art. It's 
a crime to have written it, and 1 for one shall never 
open its pages." 

" Is that what you have come to tell me?" I asked. 

"No," he said, "I came to tell you that I am going 
to be married." 

I believe for a moment my heart ceased to beat, but 
I kept my eyes on his face. 

"Yes," he continued, smiling happily, "married to 
the sweetest girl on earth." 

"Constance Hawberk," I said, mechanically. 

"How did you know?" he cried, astonished. "I 
didn't know it myself until that evening last April, 
when we strolled down to the embankment before 
dinner." 

When is it to be?" I asked. 

It was to have been neict September; but an hour 
ago a despatch came, ordering our regiment to the 
Presidio, San Francisco. We leave at noon to-morrow. 
To-morrow," he repeated. "Just think, Hildred, to- 
morrow I shall be the happiest fellow that ever drew 
breath in this jolly world, for Constance will go with 



it 



me. 



I offered him my hand in congratulation, and he 
seized and shook it Uke the good-natured fool he was 
— or pretended to be. 

" I am going to get my squadron as a wedding pres- 

32 






THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

ent/' he rattled on. "Captain and Mrs. Louis Cas- 
taigne — eh, Hildred?" 

Then he told me where it was to be and who were to 
be there, and made me promise to come and be best 
man. I set my teeth and listened to his boyish chatter 
without showing what I felt, but — 

I was getting to the limit of my endurance, and 
when he jumped up, and, switching his spiu-s till they 
jingled, said he must go, I did not detain him. 

"There's one thing I want to ask of you," I said, 
quietly. 

Out with it — ^it's promised," he laughed. 
I want you to meet me for a quarter of an hour's 
talk to-night." 

"Of course, if you wish," he said, somewhat puz- 
zled. "Where?" 

"Anywhere — ^in the park there." 

"What time, Hildred?" 

"Midnight." 

"What in the name of — " he began, but checked 
himself and laughingly assented. I watched him go 
down the stairs and hurry away, his sabre banging 
at every stride. He turned into Bleecker Street, and 
I knew he was going to see Constance. I gave him 
ten minutes to disappear and then followed in his 
footsteps, taking with me the jewelled crown and the 
silken robe embroidered with the Yellow Sign. When 
I turned into Bleecker Street and entered the door- 
way which bore the sign, 

Mr. Wilde, 

REPAmER OP Reputations, 

3d Bell, 

I saw old Hawberk moving about in his shop, and 
imagined I heard Constance's voice in the parlor; 

3 33 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

but I avoided them both and hurried up the trembling 
stair-ways to Mr. Wilde's apartment. 1 knocked, and 
entered without ceremony. Mr. Wilde lay groaning 
on the floor, his face covered with blood, his clothes 
torn to shreds. Drops of blood were scattered about 
over the carpet, which had also been ripped and frayed 
in the evidently recent struggle. 

"It's that cursed cat," he said, ceasing his groans 
and turning his colorless eyes to me; "she attacked 
me while I was asleep. I believe she will kill me yet." 

This was too much, so I went into the kitchen and, 
seizing a hatchet from the pantry, started to find the 
infernal beast and settle her then and there. My 
search was fruitless, and after a while I gave it up 
and came back to find Mr. Wilde squatting on his high 
chair by the table. He had washed his face and 
changed his clothes. The great furrows which the 
cat's claws had ploughed up in his face he had filled 
with collodion, and a rag hid the wound in his throat. 
I told him I should kill the cat when I came across her, 
but he only shook his head and turned to the open 
ledger before him. He read name after name of the 
people who had come to him in regard to their reputa- 
tion, and the sums he had amassed were startling. 
I put on the screws now and then," he explained. 
One day or other some of these people will assassi- 
nate you," I insisted. 

"Do you think so?" he said, rubbing his mutilated 
ears. 

It was useless to argue with him, so I took down 
the manuscript entitled Imperial Dynasty of America 
for the last time I should ever take it down in Mr. Wilde's 
study. I read it through, thrilling and trembling with 
pleasure. When I had finished, Mr. Wilde took the 
manuscript, and, turning to the dark passage which 
leads from his study to his bedchamber, called out, 

34 



it 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

in a loud voice, "Vance/' Then for the first time 
I noticed a man crouching there in the shadow. How 
I had overlooked him during my search for the cat I 
cannot imagine. 

"Vance, come in I" cried Mr. Wilde. 

The figure rose and crept towards us, and I shall 
never forget the face that he raised to mine as the 
light from the window illuminated it. 

"Vance, this is Mr. Castaigne," said Mr. Wilde. 
Before he had finished speaking, the man threw 
himself on the ground before the table, crying and 
gasping, "Oh, God I Oh, my God I Help me I For- 
give me — Oh, Mr. Castaigne, keep that man away I 
You cannot, you cannot mean it I You are different 
— ^saveme! I am broken down — I was in a madhouse, 
and now — when all was coming right — when I had 
forgotten the King — ^the King in Yellow, and — but I 
shall go mad again — ^I shall go mad — " 

His voice died into a choking rattle, for Mr. Wilde 
had leaped on him, and his right hand encircled the 
man's throat. When Vance fell in a heap on the floor, 
Mr. Wilde clambered nimbly into his chair again, 
and, rubbing his mangled ears with the stump of his 
hand, turned to me and asked me for the ledger. I 
reached it down from the shelf and he opened it. After 
a moment's searching among the beautifully written 
pages, he coughed complacently and pointed to the 
name Vance. 

"Vance," he read, aloud — "Osgood Oswald Vance." 
At the sound of his name the man on the floor raised 
his head and turned a convulsed face to Mr. Wilde. 
His eyes were injected with blood, his lips tumefied. 
"Called April 28th," continued Mr. Wilde. "Occupa- 
tion, cashier in the Seaf orth National Bank ; has served 
a term for forgery at Sing Sing, whence he was trans- 
ferred to the Asylum for the Criminal Insane. Par- 

35 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

doned by the Governor of New York, and discharged 
from the Asylum January 19, 1918. Reputation dam^ 
aged at Sheepshead Bay. Rumors that he Uves be- 
yond his income. Reputation to be repaired at once. 
Retainer, "$1500. 

"Note. — Has embezzled sums amounting to $30,000 
since March 20, 1919. Excellent family, and secured 
present position through uncle's influence. Father, 
President of Seaforth Bank." 

I looked at the man on the floor. 

"Get up, Vance," said Mr. Wilde, in a gentle voice. 
Vance rose as if hypnotized. " He will do as we sug- 
gest now," observed Mr. Wilde, and, opening the manu- 
script, he read the entire history of the Imperial Dy- 
nasty of America. Then, in a kind and soothing mur- 
mur, he ran over the important points with] Vance, 
who stood Hke one stunned. His eyes were so blank 
and vacant that I imagined he had become half-witted, 
and remarked it to Mr. Wilde, who replied that it was 
of no consequence anyway. Very patiently we pointed 
out to Vance what his share in the affair woidd be, 
and he seemed to understand after a while. Mr. Wilde 
explained the manuscript, using several volumes on 
Heraldry to substantiate the result of his researches. 
He mentioned the establishment of the Dynasty in 
Carcosa, the lakes which connected Hastur, Aldebaran, 
and the mystery of the Hyades. He spoke of Cassilda 
and Camilla, and sounded the cloudy depths of Demhe 
and the Lake of Hali. " The scalloped tatters of the 
King in Yellow must hide Yhtill forever," he mut- 
tered, but I do not believe Vance heard him. Then 
by degrees he led Vance along the ramifications of 
the imperial family to Uoht and Thale, from Naotalba 
and Phantom of Truth to Aldones, and then, tossing 
aside his manuscript and notes, he began the won- 
derf ul story of the Last King. Fascinated and thrilled, 

36 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

I watched him. He threw up his head, his long arms 
were stretched out in a magnificent gesture of pride 
and power, and his eyes blazed deep in their sockets 
like two emeralds. Vance hstened, stupefied. As for 
me, when at last Mr. Wilde had finished, and, point- 
ing to me, cried, "The cousin of the King," my head 
swam with excitement. 

Controlling myself with a superhuman effort, I ex- 
plained to Vance why I alone was worthy of the crown, 
and why my cousin must be exiled or die. I made him 
understand that my cousin must never marry, even 
after renouncing all his claims, and how that, least of 
all, he should marry the daughter of the Marquis of 
Avonshire and bring England into the question. I 
showed him a Ust of thousands of names which Mr. 
Wilde had drawn up; every man whose name was 
there had received the Yellow Sign, which no living 
human being dared disregard. The city, the State, 
the whole land, were ready to rise and tremble before 
the Pallid Mask. 

The time had come, the people should know the son 
of Hastur, and the whole world bow to the black stars 
which hang in the sky over Carcosa. 

Vance leaned on the table, his head buried in his 
hands. Mr. Wilde drew a rough sketch on the margin 
of yesterday's Herald with a bit of lead-pencil. It was 
a plan of Hawberk's rooms. Then he wrote out the 
order and affixed the seal, and, shaking Uke a palsied 
man, I signed my first writ of execution with my name 
Hildred-Rex. 

Mr. Wilde clambered to the floor and, unlocking 
the cabinet, took a long, square box from the first shelf. 
This he brought to the table and opened. A new 
knife lay in the tissue-paper inside, and I picked it up 
and handed it to Vance, along with the order and the 
plan of Hawberk's apartment. Then Mr. Wilde told 

37 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

Vance he could go; and he went^ shambling like an 
outcast of the slums. 

I sat for a while watching the daylight fade behind 
the square tower of the Judson Memorial Church, and 
finally, gathering up the manuscript and notes, took 
my hat and started for the door. 

Mr. Wilde watched me in silence. When I had 
stepped into the hall I looked back ; Mr. Wilde's small 
eyes were still fixed on me. Behind him the shad- 
ows gathered in the fading Ught. Then I closed the 
door behind me and went out into the darkening 
streets. 

I had eaten nothing since breakfast, but I was not 
hungry. A wretched, half-starved creature, who stood 
looking across the street at the Lethal Chamber, noticed 
me and came up to tell me a tale of misery. I gave 
him money — ^I don't know why — ^and he went away 
without thanking me. An hour later another out- 
cast approached and whined his story. I had a blank 
bit of paper in my pocket, on which was traced the 
Yellow Sign, and I handed it to him. He looked at 
it stupidly for a moment, and then, with an uncertain 
glance at me, folded it with what seemed to me exag- 
gerated care and placed it in his bosom. 

The electric lights were sparkling among the trees, 
and the new moon shone in the sky above the Lethal 
Chamber. It was tiresome waiting in the square; 
I wandered from the marble arch to the artillery stables, 
and back again to the lotos fountain. The flowers 
and grass exhaled a fragrance which troubled me. 
The jet of the fountain played in the moonlight, and 
the musical splash of falling drops reminded me of 
the tinkle of chained mail in Hawberk's shop. But it 
was not so fascinating, and the dull sparkle of the 
moonlight on the water brought no such sensations 
of exquisite pleasure as when the sunshine played 

38 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

over the polished steel of a corselet on Hawberk's knee. 
I watched the bats darting and turning above the 
water plants in the fountain basin, but their rapid, jerky 
flight set my nerves on edge, and I went away again 
to walk aimlessly to and fro among the trees. 

The artillery stables were dark, but in the cavalry 
barracks the officers' windows were brilliantly Ughted, 
and the sally-port was constantly filled with troopers 
in fatigue, carrying straw and harness and baskets 
filled with tin dishes. 

Twice the mounted sentry at the gates was changed 
while I wandered up and down the asphalt walk. I 
looked at my watch. It was nearly time. The lights 
in the barracks went out one by one, the barred gate 
was closed, and every minute or two an officer passed in 
through the side wicket, leaving a rattle of accoutre- 
ments and a jingle of spurs on the night air. The 
square had become very silent. The last homeless 
loiterer had been driven away by the gray-coated park 
policeman, the car tracks along Wooster Street were 
deserted, and the only sound which broke the stillness 
was the stamping of the sentry's horse and the ring 
of his sabre against the saddle pommel. In the bar- 
racks the officers' quarters were still lighted, and 
military servants passed and repassed before the bay- 
windows. Twelve o'clock sounded from the new 
spire of St. Francis Xavier, and at the last stroke of 
the sad-toned bell a figure passed through the wicket 
beside the portcullis, returned the salute of the sentry, 
and, crossing the street, entered the square and ad- 
vanced towards the Benedick apartment house. 

''Louis," I caUed. 

The man pivoted on his spurred heels and came 
straight towards me. 

"Isthatyou, Hildred?" 

"Yes, you are on time." 

39 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

I took his offered hand and we strolled towards 
the Lethal Chamber. 

He rattled on about his wedding and the graces 
of Constance and their future prospects, calling my 
attention to his captain's shoulder-straps and the 
triple gold arabesque on his sleeve and fatigue cap. 
I believe I listened as much to the music of his spurs 
and sabre as I did to his boyish babble, and at last 
we stood under the elms on the Fourth Street corner 
of the square opposite the Lethal Chamber. Then 
he laughed and asked me what I wanted with him. 
I motioned him to a seat on a bench under the electric 
light, and sat down beside him. He looked at me 
curiously, with that same searching glance which 
I hate and fear so in doctors. I felt the insult of his 
look, but he did not know it, and I carefully concealed 
my feelings. 

''Well, old chap," he inquired, "what can I do for 
you?" 

I drew from my pocket the manuscript and notes 
of the Imperial Dynasty of America, and, looking him 
in the eye, said : 

" I will tell you. On your word as a soldier, promise 
me to read this manuscript from beginning to end 
without asking me a question. Promise me to read 
these notes in the same way, and promise me to listen 
to what I have to tell later." 

I promise, if you wish it," he said, pleasantly. 

Give me the paper, Hildred." 

He began to read, raising his eyebrows with a puz^ 
zled, whimsical air, which made me tremble with sup- 
pressed anger. As he advanced, his eyebrows con- 
tracted, and his lips seemed to form the word "rub- 
bish." 

Then he looked slightly bored, but apparently for 
my sake read, with an attempt at interest, which pres- 

40 



4f 
tt 



\ 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

ently ceased to be an eflFort. He started when, in 
the closely written pages he came to his own mime, and 
when he came to mine he lowered the paper and looked 
sharply at me for a moment. But he kept his word, 
and resumed his reading, and I let the half -formed 
question die on his lips unanswered. When he came 
to the end and read the signature of Mr. Wilde, he 
folded the paper carefully and returned it to me. I 
handed him the notes, and he settled back, pushing 
his fatigue cap up to his forehead with a boyish gesture 
which I remembered so well in school. I watched his 
face as he read, and when he finished I took the notes, 
with the manuscript, and placed them in my pocket 
Then I imfolded a scroll marked with the Yellow Sign. 
He saw the sign, but he did not seem to recognize it, 
and I called his attention to it somewhat sharply. 
WeU,'' he said, " I see it What is it?'' 
It is the Yellow Sign," I said, angrily. 
Oh, that's it, is it?" said Louis, in that flattering 
voice which Dr. Archer used to employ with me, and 
would probably have employed again, had I not set- 
tled his affair for him. 

I kept my rage down and answered as steadily as 
possible, "Listen, you have engaged your word?" 

"I am listening, old chap," he replied, soothingly. 

I began to speak very calmly: "Dr. Archer, having 
by some means become possessed of the secret of the 
Imperial Succession, attempted to deprive me of my 
right, alleging that, because of a fall from my horse 
four years ago, I had become mentally deficient. He 
presumed to place me under restraint in his own 
house in hopes of either driving me insane or poison- 
ing me. I have not forgotten it. I visited him last 
night and the interview was final." 

Louis turned quite pale, but did not move. I resumed, 
triumphantly: "There are yet three people to be in- 

41 



ft 



i4 
tt 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

terviewed in the interests of Mr. Wilde and myself. 
They are my cousin Louis^ Mr. Hawberk, and his 
daughter Constance.'' 

Louis sprang to his f eet^ and I arose also, and flung 
the paper marked with the Yellow Sign to the ground. 

"Oh, I don't need that to tell you what I have to 
say/' I cried, with a laugh of triumph. "You must 
renounce the crown to me — do you hear, to me?" 

Louis looked at me with a startled air, but, recovering 
himself, said kindly, " Of course I renounce the — what 
is it I must renounce?" 

The crown," I said, angrily. 
Of course," he answered, "I renounce it. Come, 
old chap, I'll walk back to your rooms with you." 

"Don't try any of your doctor's tricks on me," I 
cried, trembling with fury. " Don't act as if you think 
I am insane." 

"What nonsense!" he replied. "Come, it's getting 
late, Hildred." 

"No," I shouted, "you must listen. You cannot 
marry; I forbid it. Do you hear? I forbid it. You 
shall renounce the crown, and in reward I grant you 
exile; but if you refuse you shall die." 

He tried to calm me, but I was roused at last, and, 
drawing my long knife, barred his way. 

Then I told him how they would find Dr. Archer 
in the cellar with his throat open, and I laughed in 
his face when I thought of Vance and his knife, and 
the order signed by me. 

"Ah, you are the King," I cried, "but I shall be 
King. Who are you to keep me from empire over 
all the habitable earth! I was bom the cousin of a 
king, but I shall be King!" 

Louis stood white and rigid before me. Suddenly 
a man came running up Fourth Street, entered the 
gate of the Lethal Temple, traversed the path to the 

42 



\ 

s 



THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS 

bronze doors at full speedy and plunged into the death- 
chamber with the cry of one demented^ and I laughed 
until I wept tears, for I had recognized Vance, and 
knew that Hawberk and his daughter were no longer 
in my way. 

"Go," I cried to Louis, "you have ceased to be a 
menace. You will never marry Constance now, and 
if you marry any one else in your exile, I will visit 
you as I did my doctor last night. Mr. Wilde, takes 
charge of you to-morrow.'' Then I turned and darted 
into South Fifth Avenue, and with a cry of terror 
Louis dropped his belt and sabre and followed me like 
the wind. I heard him close behind me at the comer 
of Bleecker Street, and I dashed into the door-way 
under Hawberk's sign. He cried, "Halt, or I fire! ' 
but when he saw that I flew up the stairs leaving Haw- 
berk's shop below, he left me, and I heard him ham- 
mering and shouting at their door as though it were 
possible to arouse the dead. 

Mr. Wilde's door was open, and I entered, crjdng: 
"It is done, it is done! Let the nations rise and look 
upon their King!" but I could not find Mr. Wilde, so 
I went to the cabinet and took the splendid diadem 
from its case. Then I drew on the white silk robe, 
embroidered with the Yellow Sign, and placed the crown 
upon my head. At last I was King, King by my right 
in Hastur, King because I knew the mystery of the 
Hyades, and my mind had sounded the depths of the 
Lake of Hah. I was King ! The first gray pencillings 
of dawn would raise a tempest which would shake two 
hemispheres. Then as I stood, my every nerve pitched 
to the highest tension, faint with the joy and splendor 
of my thought, without, in the dark passage, a man 
groaned. 

I seized the tallow dip and sprang to the door. The 
cat passed me like a demon, and the tallow dip went 

43 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

out, but my long knife flew swifter than she, and I 
heard her screech, and I knew that my knife had found 
her. For a moment I listened to her tumbling and 
thiunping about in the darkness, and then, when her 
frenzy ceased, I lighted a lamp and raised it over my 
head. Mr. Wilde lay on the floor with his throat torn 
open. At first I thought he was dead, but as I looked a 
green sparkle came into his sunken eyes, his mutilated 
hand trembled, and then a spasm stretched his mouth 
from ear to ear. For a moment my terror and de- 
spair gave place to hope, but as I bent over him his 
eyeballs rolled clean around in his head, and he died. 
Then, while I stood transfixed with rage and despair, 
seeing my crown, my empire, every hope and every 
ambition, my very life, lying prostrate there with the 
dead master, they came, seized me from behind and 
bound me until my veins stood out like cords, and my 
voice failed with the paroxysms of my frenzied screams. 
But I still raged, bleeding and infuriated, among them, 
and more than one policeman felt my sharp teeth. 
Then when I could no longer move they came nearer; I 
saw old Hawberk, and behind him my cousin Lpuis' 
ghastly face, and farther away, in the comer, a woman, 
Constance, weeping softly. 

" Ah! I see it nowl" I shrieked. " You have seized 
the throne and the empire. Woe! woe to you who are 
crowned with the crown of the King in Yellow 1" 

[Editor's note. — Mr. Castaigne died yesterday in the Asy- 
lum for Criminal Insane.] 



THE MASK 



THE MASK 



Camilla, You, sir, should unmask. 

Stranger, Indeed? 

Cassilda. Indeed it's time. We all have laid aside disguise 

but you. 
Stranger. I wear no mask. 

Camilla (terrified, aside to Cassilda). No mask? No mask I 

— " The King in Yellow," act i., scene 2. 



A LTHOUGH I knew nothing of chemistry, I listened 
f\ fascinated. He picked up an Easter lily which 
Genevifeve had brought that morning from Notre Dame 
and dropped it into the basin. Instantly the liquid lost 
its crystalUne clearness. For a second the Uly was 
enveloped in a milk-white foam, which disappeared, 
leaving the fluid opalescent. Changing tints of orange 
and crimson played over the surface, and then what 
seemed to be a ray of pure sunlight struck through 
from the bottom where the lily was resting. At the 
same instant he plunged his hand into the basin and 
drew out the flower. "There is no danger," he ex- 
plained, " if you choose the right moment. That golden 
ray is the signal." 

He held the lily towards me and I took it in my hand. 
It had turned to stone, to the purest marble. 

"You see," he said, "it is without a flaw. What 
sculptor could reproduce it?" 

47 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

The marble was white as snow; but in its depths 
the veins of the lily were tinged with palest azure, and 
a faint flush lingered deep in its heart. 

''Don't ask me the reason of that," he smiled, no- 
ticing my wonder. "I have no idea why the veins 
and heart are tinted, but they always are. Yesterday 
I tried one of Genevifeve's gold-fish — ^there it is." 

The fish looked as if sculptured in marble. But if 
you held it to the light the stone was beautifully veined 
with a faint blue, and from somewhere within came a 
rosy Ught like the tint which sliunbers in an opal. I 
looked into the basin. Once more it seemed filled with 
clearest crystal. 

"If I should touch it now?" I demanded. 

" I don't know," he replied, " but you had better not 
try." 

"There is one thing I'm curious about," I said, 
"and that is where the ray of sunlight came from." 

" It looked like a sunbeam, true enough," he said. 
" I don't know, it always comes when I immerse any 
living thing. Perhaps," he continued, smiling — " per- 
haps it is th^ vital spark of the creature escaping to 
the source whence it came." 

I saw he was mocking, and threatened him with a 
mahlstick; but he only laughed and changed the 
subject. 

Stay to limch. Genevifeve will be here directly." 
I saw her going to early mass," I said, "and she 
looked as fresh and sweet as that Uly — before you 
destroyed it." 

Do you think I destroyed it?" said Boris, gravely. 
Destroyed, preserved, how can we tell?" 

We sat in the comer of a studio near his unfinished 
group of "The Fates." He leaned back on the sofa, 
twirling a sculptor's chisel and squinting at his work. 

"By-the-way," he said, "I have finished pointing 

48 



4f 
tt 



it 



THE MASK 

up that old academic 'Ariadne/ and I suppose it wiU 
have to go to the Salon. It's all I have ready this year, 
but after the success the ' Madonna ' brought me I 
feel ashamed to send a thing like that." 

The "Madonna/' an exquisite marble, for which 
Genevi&ve had sat, had been the sensation of last year's 
Salon. I looked at the "Ariadne." It was a magnifi- 
cent piece of technical work; but I agreed with Boris 
that the world would expect something better of him 
than that. Still, it was impossible now to think of 
finishing in time for the Salon that splendid, terrible 
group half shrouded in the marble behind me. " The 
Fates " would have to wait. 

We were proud of Boris Yvain. We claimed him 
and he claimed us on the strength of his having been 
bom in America, although his father was French and 
his mother was a Russian. Every one in the Beaux 
Arts called him Boris. And yet there were only two 
of us whom he addressed in the same familiar way — 
Jack Scott and myself. 

Perhaps my being in love with Genevifeve had some- 
thing to do with his affection for me. Not that it had 
ever been acknowledged between us. But after all 
was settled, and she had told me with tears in her eyes 
that it was Boris whom she loved, I went over to his 
house and congratulated him. The perfect cordiality 
* of that interview did not deceive either of us, I always 
beUeved, although to one at least it was a great com- 
fort. I do not think he and Genevi&ve ever spoke of 
the matter together, but Boris knew. 

Genevifeve was lovely. The Madonna-like purity of 
her face might have been inspired by the "Sanctus" 
in Gounod's Mass. But I was always glad when she 
changed that mood for what we called her "April 
Manoeuvres." She was often as variable as an April 
day. In the morning grave, dignified, and sweet; 
4 49 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

at noon laughing^ capricious; at evening whatever 
one least expected. I preferred her so rather than in 
that Madonna-Uke tranquillity which stirred the depths 
of my heart. I was dreaming of Genevifeve when he 
spoke again. 

"What do you think of my discovery. Alec?" 

"I think it wonderful." 

*' I shall make no use of it, you know, beyond satis- 
fying my own curiosity so far as may be, and the secret 
will die with me." 

"It would be rather a blow to sculpture, would it 
not? We painters lose more than we ever gain by 
photography." 

Boris nodded, playing with the edge of the chisel. 

"This new, vicious discovery would corrupt the 
world of art. No. I shall never confide the secret to 
any one," he said, slowly. 

It would be hard to find any one less informed about 
such phenomena than myself; but of course I had 
heard of mineral springs so saturated with silica that 
the leaves and twigs which fell into them were turned 
to stone after a time. I dimly comprehended the proc- 
ess, how the siUca replaced the vegetable matter, atom 
by atom, and the result was a duplicate of the object in 
stone. This I confess had never interested me greatly, 
and, as for the ancient fossils thus produced, they dis- 
gusted me. Boris, it appeared, feehng curiosity in- 
stead of repugnance, had investigated the subject, 
and had accidentally stumbled on a solution which, 
attacking the immersed object with a ferocity unheard 
of, in a second did the work of years. This was aU I 
could make out of the strange story he had just been 
telling me. He spoke again after a long silence. 

" I am almost frightened when I think what I have 
found. Scientists would go mad over the discovery. 
It was so simple, too; it discovered itself. When I 

50 



THE MASK 

think of that formula, and that new element precipi- 
tated in metallic scales — " 

"What new element?" 

"Oh, I haven't thought of naming it, and I don't 
believe I ever shall. There are enough precious metals 
now in the world to cut throats over." 

I pricked up my ears. " Have you struck gold, Boris?" 

"No, better; but see here. Alec!" he laughed, start- 
ing up. "You and I have all we need in this world. 
Ah I how sinister and covetous you look already!" 
I laughed, too, and told him I was devoured by the de- 
sire for gold, and we had better talk of something else; 
so, when Genevifeve came in shortly after, we had turned 
our backs on alchemy. 

Genevifeve was dressed in silvery gray from head to 
foot. The light glinted along the soft curves of her 
fair hair as she turned her cheek to Boris; then she 
saw me and returned my greeting. She had never 
before failed to blow me a kiss from the tips of her white 
fingers, and I promptly complained of the omission. 
She smiled and held out her hand, which dropped al- 
most before it had touched mine ; then she said, looking 
at Boris : 

"You must ask Alec to stay for luncheon." This 
also was something new. She had always asked me 
herself until to-day. 

I did," said Boris, shortly. 

And you said yes, I hope." She turned to me with 
a charming conventional smile. I might have been an 
acquaintance of the day before yesterday. I made 
her a low bow. " J'avais bien I'honneur, madame " ; 
but, refusing to take up our usual bantering tone, she 
murmured a hospitable commonplace and disappeared. 
Boris and I looked at each other. 

I had better go home, don't you think?" I asked. 
Hanged if I know," he repUed, frankly. 

51 



H 



it 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

While we were discussing the advisability of my 
departure, Genevifeve reappeared in the door-way with- 
out her bonnet. She was wonderfully beautiful, but 
her color was too deep and her lovely eyes were too 
bright. She came straight up to me and took my 
arm. 

*' Luncheon is ready. Was I cross, Alec ? I thought 
I had a headache, but I haven't. Come here, Boris," 
and she slipped her other arm through his. " Alec 
knows that, after you, there is no one in the world 
whom I Uke as well as I like him, so if he sometimes 
feels snubbed it won't hurt him." 

"A la bonheur !" I cried; ''who says there are no 
thunder-storms in April?" 

"Are you ready?" chanted Boris. "Aye ready"; 
and arm-in-arm we raced into the dining-room, scan- 
dalizing the servants. After all, we were not so much 
to blame ; Genevifeve was eighteen, Boris was twenty- 
three, and I not quite twenty-one. 



II 

SOME work that I was doing about this time on 
the decorations for Genevifeve's boudoir kept me 
constantly at the quaint little hotel in the Rue Sainte- 
Cdcile. Boris and I in those days labored hard^ but as 
we pleased^ which was fitfully, and we all three, with 
Jack Scott, idled a great deal together. 

One quiet afternoon I had been wandering alone 
over the house examining curios, prying into odd 
comers, bringing out sweetmeats and cigars from 
strange hiding-places, and at last I stopped in the 
bathing-room. Boris, all over clay, stood there wash- 
ing his hands. 

The room was built of rose-colored marble, except- 
ing the floor, which was tessellated in rose and gray. 
In the centre was a square pool sunken below the sur- 
face of the floor; steps led down into it; sculptured 
pillars supported a frescoed ceiling. A delicious mar- 
ble Cupid appeared to have just alighted on his pedestal 
at the upper end of the room. The whole interior was 
Boris's work and mine. Boris, in his working clothes 
of white canvas, scraped the traces of clay and red 
modelling-wax from his handsome hands and coquetted 
ovqr his shoulder with the Cupid. 

" I see you," he insisted ; " don't try to look the other 
way and pretend not to see me. You know who made 
you, little humbug!" 

It was always my r61e to interpret Cupid's sentiments 
in these conversations, and when my turn came I re- 

53 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

sponded in such a manner that Boris seized my arm 
and dragged me towards the pool, declaring he would 
duck me. Next instant he dropped my arm and turned 
pale. "Good Godl" he said, "I forgot the pool is full 
of the solution 1" 

I shivered a little, and dryly advised him to remember 
better where he had stored the precious liquid. 

" In Heaven's name, why do you keep a small lake of 
that grewsome stuflp here of all places?" I asked. 

" I want to experiment on something large,'" he re- 
plied. 

"On me, for instance!" 

"Ah! that came too close for jesting; but I do want 
to watch the action of that solution on a more highly 
organized living body; there is that big, white rabbit," 
he said, following me into the studio. 

Jack Scott, wearing a paint - stained jacket, came 
wandering in, appropriated all the Oriental sweetmeats 
he could lay his hands on, looted the cigarette-case, 
and finally he and Boris disappeared together to visit 
the Luxembourg Gallery, where a new silver bronze 
by Rodin and a landscape of Monet's were claiming 
the exclusive attention of artistic France. I went 
back to the studio and resumed my work. It was a 
Renaissance screen, which Boris wanted me to paint 
for Genevieve's boudoir. But the small boy who was 
unwillingly dawdhng through a series of poses for it 
to-day refused all bribes to be good. He never rested 
an instant in the same position, and inside of five 
minutes I had as many different outlines of the little 
beggar. 

" Are you posing or are you executing a song and 
dance, my friend?" I inquired. 

" Whichever monsieur pleases," he replied, with an 
angelic smile. 

Of course I dismissed him for the day, and of course 

54 



THE MASK 

I paid him for the full time, that being the way we 
spoil our models. 

After the yoimg imp had gone, I made a few per- 
functory daubs at my work, but was so thoroughly 
out of humor that it took me the rest of the afternoon 
to undo the damage I had done, so at last I scraped 
my palette, stuck my brushes in a bowl of black soap, 
and strolled into the smoking-room. I really believe 
that, excepting Genevifeve's apartments, no room in 
the house was so free from the perfume of tobacco as 
this one. It was a queer chaos of odds and ends hung 
with threadbare tapestry. A sweet-toned old spinet 
in good repair stood by the window. There were stands 
of weapons, some old and dull, others bright and mod- 
ern, festoons of Indian and Turkish armor over the 
mantel, two or three good pictures, and, a pipe-rack. 
It was here that we used to come for new sensations 
in smoking. I doubt if any type of pipe ever existed 
which was not represented in that rack. When we 
had selected one, we immediately carried it somewhere 
else and smoked it; for the place was, on the whole, 
more gloomy and less inviting than any in the house. 
But this afternoon the twilight was very soothing; 
the rugs and skins on the floor looked brown and soft 
and drowsy; the big couch was piled with cushions. 
I foimd my pipe and curled up there for an unaccus- 
tomed smoke in the smoking-room. I had chosen one 
with a long, flexible stem, and, lighting it, fell to dream- 
ing. After a while it went out; but I did not stir. I 
dreamed on and presently fell asleep. 

I awoke to the saddest music I had ever heard. The 
room was quite dark; I had no idea what time it was. 
A ray of moonlight silvered one edge of the old spinet, 
and the polished wood seemed to exhale the sounds 
as perfume floats above a box of sandal-wood. Some 
one rose in the darkness and came away weeping 

55 



ft 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

quietly, and I was fool enough to cry out, ''(5cne* 
vifevel" 

She dropped at my voice, and I had time to curse 
myself while I made a light and tried to raise her from 
the floor. She shrank away with a murmur of pain. 
She was very quiet, and asked for Boris. I carried 
her to the divan, and went to look for him; but he was 
not in the house, and the servants were gone to bed. 
Perplexed and anxious, I hurried back to Genevifeve. 
She lay where I had left her, looking very white. 

I can't find Boris nor any of the servants," I said. 
I know," she answered, faintly, ''Boris has gone 
to Ept with Mr. Scott. I did not remember when I 
sent you for him just now." 

" But he can't get back in that case before to-morrow 
afternoon, and — ^are you hurt? Did I frighten you 
into falling? What an awful fool I am, but I was 
only half awake." 

"Boris thought you had gone home before dinner. 
Do please excuse us for letting you stay here all this 
time." 

"I have had a long nap," I laughed, **so sound that 
I did not know whether I was still asleep or not when I 
found myself staring at a figure that was moving 
towards me, and called out your name. Have you 
been trying the old spinet? You must have played 
very softly." 

I would tell a thousand more lies worse than that 
one to see the look of relief that came into her face. 
She smiled adorably and said, in her natural voice : 
" Alec, I tripped on that wolf's head, and I think my 
ankle is sprained. Please call Marie and then go 
home." 

I did as she bade me, and left her there when the 
maid came in. 



m 

AT noon next day when I called, I found Boris 
walking restlessly about his studio. 

"Genevifeve is asleep just now/' he told me; "the 
sprain is nothing, but why should she have such a 
high fever? The doctor can't account for it; or else 
he will not/' he muttered. 

"Genevifeve has a fever?" I asked. 

" I should say so, and has actually been a little light- 
headed at intervals all night. The idea! — gay little 
Genevifeve, without a care in the world — and she keeps 
saying her heart's broken and she wants to die I" 

My own heart stood still. 

Boris leaned against the door of his studio, looking 
down, his hands in his pockets, his kind, keen eyes 
clouded, a new Une of trouble drawn "over the mouth's 
good mark, that made the smile." The maid had or-' 
ders to summon him the instant Genevifeve opened her 
eyes. We waited and waited, and Boris, growing 
restless, wandered about, fussing with modelling-wax 
and red clay. Suddenly he started for the next room. 
" Come and see my rose-colored bath full of death," he 
cried. 

Is it death?" I asked, to humor his mood. 
You are not prepared to call it life, I suppose," he 
answered. As he spoke he plucked a solitary gold- 
fish squirming and twisting out of its globe. "We'll 
send this one after the other — wherever that is," he 
said. There was feverish excitement in his voice. A 

57 






THE KING IN YELLOW 

dull weight of fever lay on my limbs and on my brain 
as I followed him to the fair crystal pool with its pink- 
tinted sides; and he dropped the creature in. Fall- 
ings its scales flashed with a hot, orange gleam in its 
angry twistings and contortions; the moment it struck 
the liquid it became rigid and sank heavily to the bot- 
tom. Then came the milky foam, the splendid hues 
radiating on the surface, and then the shaft of pure, 
serene light broke through from seemingly infinite 
depths. Boris plunged in his hand and drew out an 
exquisite marble thing, blue veined, rose tinted, and 
glistening with opalescent drops. 

"Child's play," he muttered, and looked wearily, 
longingly, at me — ^as if I could answer such questions! 
But Jack Scott came in and entered into the " game," 
as he called it, with ardor. Nothing would do but to 
try the experiment on the white rabbit then and there. 
I was willing that Boris should find distraction from 
his cares, but I hated to see the life go out of a warm, 
Uving creature, and I decUned to be present. Pick- 
ing up a book at random, I sat down in the studio to 
read. Alas, I had found " The King in Yellow. " After 
a few moments, which seemed ages, I was putting it 
away with a nervous shudder, when Boris and Jack 
came in, bringing their marble rabbit. At the same 
time the bell rang above and a cry came from the sick- 
room. Boris was gone like a flash, and the next mo- 
ment he called: "Jack, nm for the doctor; bring him 
back with you. Alec, come here." 

I went and stood at her door. A frightened maid 
came out in haste and ran away to fetch some remedy. 
Genevifeve, sitting bolt upright, with crimson cheeks 
and guttering eyes, babbled incessantly and resisted 
Boris's gentle restraint. He called me to help. At 
my first touch she sighed and sank back, closing her 
eyes, and then — ^then — as we still bent above her, she 

58 



THE MASK 

opened them again^ looked straight into Boris's face, 
poor, fever-crazed girl, and told her secret. At the 
same instant our three lives turned into new channels; 
the bond that had held us so long together snapped 
forever, and a new bond was forged in its place, for 
she had spoken, my name, and, as the fever tortured 
her, her heart poured out its load of hidden sorrow. 
Amazed and dumb, I bowed my head, while my face 
burned like a live coal, and the blood surg^ in my 
ears, stupefying me with its clamor. Incapable of 
movement, incapable of speech, I hstened to her fe- 
verish words in an agony of shame and sorrow. I 
could not silence her, I could not look at Boris. Then 
I felt an arm upon my shoulder, and Boris turned a 
bloodless face to mine. 

"It is not your fault. Alec; don't grieve so if she 
loves you — " But he could not finish; and as the 
doctor stepped swiftly into the room, saying, "Ah, 
the fever I" I seized Jack Scott and hurried him to the 
street, saying, "Boris would rather be alone." We 
crossed the street to our own apartments, and that 
night, seeing I was going to be ill, too, he went for the 
doctor again. The last thing I recollect with any 
distinctness was hearing Jack say, "For Heaven's 
sake, doctor, what ails him, to wear a face like that?" 
and I thought of " The King in Yellow " and the 
PaUid Mask. 

I was very ill, for the strain of two years which I 
had endured since tliat fatal May morning when Gene- 
vifeve murmured, " I love you, but I think I love Boris 
best," told on me at last. I had never imagined that 
it could become more than I could endure. Outwardly 
tranquil, I had deceived myself. Although the in- 
ward battle raged night after night, and I, lying alone 
in my room, cursed myself for rebellious thoughts 
unloyal to Boris and imworthy of Genevifeve, the mom- 

59 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

ing always brought relief, and I returned to Gene- 
vieve and to my dear Boris with a heart washed clean 
by the tempests of the night. 

Never in word or deed or thought while with them 
had I betrayed my sorrow even to myself. 

The mask of self-deception was no longer a mask 
for me ; it was a part of me. Night lifted it, laying 
bare the stifled truth below; but there was no one to 
see except myself, and when day broke the mask fell 
back again of its own accord. These thoughts passed 
through my troubled mind as I lay sick, but they were 
hopelessly entangled with visions of white creatures, 
heavy as stone, crawling about in Boris's basin — of 
the wolf's head on the rug, foaming and snapping at 
Genevifeve, who lay smiling beside it. I thought, 
too, of the King in Yellow wrapped in the fantastic 
colors of his tattered mantle, and that bitter cry of 
Cassilda, "Not upon us, King, not upon us I" Fe- 
verishly I struggled to put it from me, but I saw the 
Lake of Hali, thin and blank, without a ripple or wind 
to stir it, and I saw the towers of Carcosa behind the 
moon. Aldebaran, the Hyades, Alar, Hastur, gUded 
through the cloud rifts which fluttered and flapped as 
they passed like the scalloped tatters of the King 
in Yellow. Among all these, one sane thought per- 
sisted. It never wavered, no matter what else was 
going on in my disordered mind, that my chief reason 
for existing was to meet some requirement of Boris 
and Genevifeve. What this obligation was, its nature, 
was never clear; sometimes it seemed to be protec- 
tion, sometimes support, through a great crisis. What- 
ever it seemed to be for the time, its weight rested only 
on me, and I was never so ill or so weak that I did not 
respond with my whole soul. There were always 
crowds of faces about me, mostly strange, but a few 
I recognized, Boris among them. Afterwards they 

60 



THE MASK 

told me that this could not have been^ but I know that 
once at least he bent over me. It was only a touch, 
a faint echo of his voice, then the clouds settled back 
on my senses, and I lost him, but he did stand there 
and bend over me once at least. 

At last, one morning I awoke to find the sunlight 
falling across my bed, and Jack Scott reading beside 
me. I had not strength enough to speak aloud, neither 
could I think, much less remember, but I could smile 
feebly as Jack's eye met mine, and, when he jumped 
up and asked eagerly if I wanted anything, I could 
whisper, "Yes, Boris.'' Jack moved to the head of 
my bed, and leaned down to arrange my pillow ; I did 
not see his face, but he answered, heartily, " You must 
wait. Alec, you are too weak to see even Boris." 

I waited and I grew strong; in a few days I was 
able to see whom I would, but meanwhile I had thought 
and remembered. From the moment when all the 
past grew clear again in my mind, I never doubted 
what I should do when the time came, and I felt sure 
that Boris would have resolved upon the same course 
so far as he was concerned; as for what pertained to 
me alone, I knew he would see that also as I did. I 
ho longer asked for any one. I never inquired why 
no message came from them; why, during the week 
I lay there, waiting and growing stronger, I never 
heard their names spoken. Preoccupied with my own 
searchings for the right way, and with my feeble but 
determined fight against despair, I simply acquiesced 
in Jack's reticence, taking for granted that he was 
afraid to speak of them, lest I should turn unruly and 
insist on seeing them. Meanwhile I said over and 
over to myself how it would be when life began again 
for us all. We would take up our relations exactly 
as they were before Genevifeve fell ill. Boris and I 
would look into each other's eyes, and there would be 

6i 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

neither rancor nor cowardice nor mistrust in that glance. 
I would be with them again for a Uttle while in the dear 
intimacy of their home, and then, without pretext or 
explanation, I would disappear from their Uves for- 
ever. Boris would know; Genevifeve — ^the only com- 
fort was that she would never know. It seemed, as 
I thought it over, that I had found the meaning of that 
sense of obUgation which had persisted all through 
my delirium, and the only possible answer to it. So, 
when I was quite ready, I beckoned Jack to me one 
day, and said: 

"Jack, I want Boris at once, and take my dearest 
greeting to Genevifeve. ..." 

When at last he made me understand that they were 
both dead, I fell into a wild rage that tore all my little 
convalescent strength to atoms. I raved and cursed 
myself into a relapse, from which I crawled forth some 
weeks afterwards a boy of twenty-one who believed 
that his youth was gone forever. I seemed to be past 
the capability of further sufiFering, and one day, when 
Jack handed me a letter and the keys to Boris's house, 
I took them without a tremor and asked him to tell 
me all. It was cruel of me to ask him, but there was 
no help for it, and he leaned wearily on his thin hands 
to reopen the wound which could never entirely heal. 
He began very quietly. 

" Alec, unless you have a clew that I know nothing 
about, you will not be able to explain any more than I 
what has happened. I suspect that you would rather 
not hear these details, but you must learn them, else I 
would spare you the relation. God knows I wish I 
could be spared the telling. I shall use few words. 

" That day when I left you in the doctor's care and 
came back to Boris, I found him working on ' The Fates.' 
Genevifeve, he said, was sleeping under the influence 
of drugs. She had been quite out of her mind, he said. 

62 



THE MASK 

He kept on working, not talking any more, and I 
watched him. Before long I saw that the third figure 
of the group — ^the one looking straight ahead, out over 
the world — bore his face; not as you ever saw it, but 
as it looked then and to the end. This is one thing 
for which I should like to find an explanation, but I 
never shall. 

"Well, he worked and I watched him in silence, 
and we went on that way until nearly midnight. Then 
we heard a door open and shut sharply, and a swift 
rush in the next room. Boris sprang through the 
door-way, and I followed; but we were too late. She 
lay at the bottom of the pool, her hands across her 
breast. Then Boris shot himself through the heart." 
Jack stopped speaking, drops of sweat stood under his 
eyes, and his thin cheeks twitched. "I carried Boris 
to his room. Then I went back and let that hellish 
fluid out of the pool, and, turning on all the water, 
washed the marble clean of every drop. When at 
length I dared descend the steps, I found her lying 
there as white as snow. At last, when I had decided 
what was best to do, I went into the laboratory, and 
first emptied the solution in the basin into the waste- 
pipe; then I poured the contents of every jar and bottle 
after it. There was wood in the fireplace, so I built a 
fire, and, breaking the locks of Boris's cabinet, I burned 
every paper, note-book, and letter that I found there. 
With a mallet from the studio I smashed to pieces all 
the empty bottles, then, loading them into a coal-scut- 
tle, I carried them to the cellar and threw them over 
the red-hot bed of the furnace. Six times I made the 
journey, and at last not a vestige remained of an5rthing 
which might again aid one seeking for the formula 
which Boris had found. Then at last I dared call the 
doctor. He is a good man, and together we struggled 
to keep it from the public. Without him I never could 

63 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

have succeeded. At last we got the servants paid and 
sent away into the country, where old Rosier keeps 
them quiet with stories of Boris's and Genevifeve's 
travels in distant lands, whence they will not re- 
turn for years. We buried Boris in the little ceme- 
tery of Sevres. The doctor is a good creature, and 
knows when to pity a man who can bear no more. 
He gave his certificate of heart disease and asked no 
questions of me.'' 

Then, Uf ting his head from his hands, he said, " Open 
the letter. Alec ; it is for us both." 

I tore it open. It was Boris's will, dated a year be- 
fore. He left everything to Genevifeve, and, in case of 
her dying childless, I was to take control of the house 
in the Rue Sainte-Cficile, and Jack Scott the manage- 
ment at Ept. On our deaths the property reverted to 
his mother's family in Russia, with the exception of 
the sculptured marbles executed by himself. These 
he left to me. 

The page blurred under our eyes, and Jack got up 
and walked to the window. Presently he returned 
and sat down again. I dreaded to hear what he was 
going to say; but he spoke with the same simpUcity 
and gentleness. 

" Genevifeve lies before the ' Madonna ' in the marble- 
room. The * Madonna ' bends tenderly above her, and 
Genevifeve smiles back into that calm face that never 
would have been except for her." 

His voice broke, but he grasped my hand, saying, 
"Courage, Alec." Neirt morning he left for Ept to 
fulfil his trust. 



IV 

THE same evening I took the keys and went into 
the house I had known so well. Everything 
was in order, but the silence was terrible. Though I 
went twice to the door of the marble-room, I could not 
force myself to enter. It was beyond my strength. 
I went into the smoking-room and sat down before 
the spinet. A small lace handkerchief lay on the 
keys, and I turned away, choking. It was plain I 
could not stay, so I locked every door, every window, 
and the three front and back gates, and went away. 
Next morning Alcide packed my valise, and, leaving 
him in charge of my apartments, I took the Orient ex- 
press for Constantinople. During the two years that 
I wandered through the East, at first, in our letters, 
we never mentioned Genevifeve and Boris, but gradually 
their names crept in. I recollect particularly a passage 
in one of Jack's letters replying to one of mine : 

" What you tell me of seeing Boris bending over you 
while you lay ill, and feeling his touch on your face 
and hearing his voice, of course troubles me. This 
that you describe must have happened a fortnight 
after he died. I say to myself that you were dreaming, 
that it was part of your delirium, but the explanation 
does not satisfy me, nor would it you.'' 

Towards the end of the second year a letter came 
from Jack to me in India so unlike ansrthing that I 
had ever known of him that I decided to return at once 
to Paris. He wrote : "' I am well, and sell all my pict- 

» 65 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

ures, as artists do who have no need of money. I 
have not a care of my own; but I am more restless 
than if I had. I am miable to shake off a strange 
anxiety about you. It is not apprehension, it is rather 
a breathless expectancy — of what, God knows I I can 
only say it is wearing me out. Nights I dream always 
of you and Boris. I can never recall anything after- 
wards ; but I wake in the morning with my heart beat- 
ing, and all day the excitement increases until I fall 
asleep at night to recall the same experience. I am 
quite exhausted by it, and have determined to break 
up this morbid condition. I must see you. Shall I 
go to Bombay or will you come to Paris?" 

I telegraphed him to expect me by the next steamer. 

When we met I thought he had changed very Uttle; 
I, he insisted, looked in splendid health. It was good 
to hear his voice again, and as we sat and chatted about 
what life still held for us we felt that it was pleasant 
to be aUve in the bright spring weather. 

We stayed in Paris together a week, and then I went 
for a week to Ept with him, but first of all we went to 
the cemetery at Sfeyres, where Boris lay. 

"Shall we place 'The Fates' in the Uttle grove 
above him?" Jack asked, and I answered : 

"I think only the 'Madonna' should watch over 
Boris's grave." But Jack was none the better for 
my home-coming. The dreams, of which he could 
not retain even the least definite outline, continued, 
and he said that at times the sense of breathless ex- 
pectancy was suffocating. 

" You see, I do you harm and not good," I said. " Try 
a change without me." So he started alone for a ram- 
ble among the Obannel Islands, and I went back to 
Paris. I had not yet entered Boris's house, now mine, 
since my return, but I knew it must be done. It had 
been kept in order by Jack; there were servants there^ 

66 




1 na ju/i-oi^ 

ao I gave up my own apartment and went there to 
live. Instead of the agitation I had feared, I found 
myself able to paint there tranquilly. I visited all 
the rooms — all but one. I could not bring myself to 
enter the marble-room, where Genevifeve lay^ and yet 
I felt the longing growing daily to look upon her face, 
to kneel beside her. 

One April afternoon I lay dreaming in the smok- 
ing-room, just as I had lain two years before, and me- 
chEinically I looked among the tawny Extern rugs 
for the wolf-skin. At last I distinguished the pointed 
ears and flat, cruel head, and I thought of my dream, 
where I saw Genevifrve lying beside it. The helmets 
still htmg against the threadbare tapestry, among 
them the old Spanish morion which I remembered 
Genevieve had once put on when we were amusing 
ourselves with the ancient bits of mail. I turned my 
eyes to the spinet; every yellow key seemed eloquent 
of her caressing hand, and I rose, drawn by the strength 
of my life's passion to the sealed door of the marble- 
room. The heavy doors swung inward under my 
trembling hands. Sunlight poured through the win- 
dow, tipping with gold the wings of Cupid, and hngcred 
like a nimbus over the brows of the "Madonna." Her 
tender face bent in compassion over a marble form io 
exquisitely pure that I kmelt and signed myself. Gcnc- 
vifeve lay in the shadow under the "Madonna," and 
yet, through her white arms, I saw the pale axurc 
vein, and beneath her softly clasped hands the foU»t 
of her dress were tinged with rose, as if from «omc 
faint, warm light within her breast 
Bending, with a breaking heart, I touched the mar- 
_ble drapery with my lips, then crept back into Ihr ^ill-Ilt 

rought me a letter, and 1 w.l 
•^■afory (o read it; but s» I wi.M 




THE KING IN YELLOW 

about to break the seal, seeing the girl lingering, I 
asked her what she wanted. 

She stammered something about a white rabbit 
that had been caught in the house, and asked what 
should be done with it. I told her to let it loose in the 
walled garden behind the house, and opened my let- 
ter. It was from Jack, but so incoherent that I thought 
he must have lost his reason. It was nothing but a 
series of prayers to me not to leave the house until he 
could get back; he could not tell me why; there were 
the dreams, he said — ^he could explain nothing, but 
he was sure that I must not leave the house in the Rue 
Sainte<)^ile. 

As I finished reading I raised my eyes and saw the 
same maid-servant standing in the door-way holding 
a glass dish in which two gold-fish were swimming. 
''Put them back into the tank and tell me what you 
mean by interrupting me,'' I said. 

With a half-suppressed whimper she emptied water 
and fish into an aquaritmi at the end of the conser- 
vatory, and, turning to me, asked my permission to 
leave my service. She said people were playing tricks 
on her, evidently with a design of getting her into 
trouble; the marble rabbit had been stolen and a Uve 
one had been brought into the house; the two beau- 
tiful marble fish were gone, and she had just found 
those common live things flopping on the dming-room 
floor. I reassured her and sent her away, saying 
I would look about myself. I went into the studio; 
there was nothing there but my canvases and some 
casts, except the marble of the Easter lily. I saw it 
on a table across the room. Then I strode angrily 
over to it. But the flower I lifted from the table 
was fresh and fragile, and filled the air with per- 
fume. 

Then suddenly I comprehended, and sprang through 

68 



THE MASK 

the hall-way to the marble - room. The doors flew 
open, the sunlight streamed into my face, and through 
it, in a heavenly glory, the " Madonna " smiled, as 
Genevifeve lifted her flushed face from her marble 
couch and opened her sleepy eyes. 



THE YELLOW SIGN 



THE YELLOW SIGN 



"Let the red dawn surmise 
What we shall do. 
When this blue starlight dies 
And all is through.' 



ft 



THERE are so many things which are impossible 
to explain! Why should certain chords in mu- 
sic make me think of the brown and golden tints of 
autumn foUage? Why should the Mass of Sainte- 
C&:ile send my thoughts wandering among caverns 
whose walls blaze with ragged masses of virgin silver? 
What was it In the roar and turmoil of Broadway at 
six o'clock that flashed before my eyes the picture of 
a still Breton forest where sunhght filtered through 
spring foliage, and Sylvia bent, half curiously, half 
tenderly, over a small, green lizard, murmuring, " To 
think that this also is a little ward of God?" 

When I first saw the watchman his back was tow- 
ards me. I looked at him indifferently, tmtil he went 
into the church. I paid no more attention to him 
than I had to any other man who lounged through 
Washington Square that morning, and when I shut 
my window and turned back into my studio I had 
forgotten him. Late in the afternoon, the day being 
warm, I raised the window again and leaned out to 

73 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

get a sniff of air. A man was standing in the court- 
yard of the church, and I noticed him again with as 
Uttle interest as I had that morning. I looked across 
the square to where the fountain was playing, and 
then, with my mind filled with vague impressions of 
trees, asphalt drives, and the moving groups of nurse- 
maids and holiday-makers, I started to walk back to 
my easel. As I turned, my listless glance included 
the man below in the church-yard. His face was tow- 
ards me now, and with a perfectly involimtary move- 
ment I bent to see it. At the same moment he raised 
his head and looked at me. Instantly I thought of 
a coflSn-worm. Whatever it was about the man that 
repelled me, I did not know, but the impression of a 
plump, white grave - worm was so intense and nau- 
seating that I must have shown it in my expression, 
for he turned his puffy face away with a movement 
which made me think of a disturbed grub in a chest^ 
nut. 

I went back to my easel and motioned the model to 
resume her pose. After working awhile, I was satisfied 
that I was spoiling what I had done as rapidly as pos- 
sible, and I took up a palette - knife and scraped the 
color out again. The flesh tones were sallow and 
unhealthy, and I did not understand how I could have 
painted such sickly color into a study which before 
that had glowed with healthy tones. 

I looked at Tessie. She had not changed, and the 
clear flush of health dyed her neck and cheeks as I 

frowned. 

" Is it something Tvc done?'' she asked. 

" No ; I've made a mess of this arm, and for the life 
of me I can't see how I came to paint such mud as that 
into the canvas," I replied. 

" Don't I pose well?" she insisted. 

"Of course, perfectly." 

74 



THE YELLOW SIGN 



tt 
it 

u 



Then it's not my fault?" 

No. It's my own." 

I'm very sorry," she said. 
I told her she could rest while I applied rag and tur« 
pentine to the plague-spot on my canvas, and she went 
off to smoke a cigarette and look over the illustrations 
in the Courier Francis. 

I did not know whether it was something in the tur- 
pentine or a defect in the canvas, but the more I scrubbed 
the more that gangrene seemed to spread. I worked 
like a beaver to get it out, and yet the disease appear- 
ed to creep from limb to limb of the study before me. 
Alarmed, I strove to arrest it, but now the color on the 
breast changed and the whole figure seemed to absorb 
the infection as a sponge soaks up water. Vigorously 
I plied palette-knife, turpentine, and scraper, thinking 
all the time what a s6ance I should hold with Duval, 
who had sold me the canvas; but soon I noticed that it 
was not the canvas which was defective, nor yet the 
colors of Edward. "It must be the turpentine," I 
thought, angrily, " or else my eyes have become so 
blurred and confused by the afternoon light that I 
can't see straight." I called Tessie, the model. She 
came and leaned over my chair, blowing rings of 
smoke into the air. 

What have you been doing to it?" she exclaimed. 

Nothing," I growled; "it must be this turpen- 
tine 1 

What a horrible color it is now," she continued. 
Do you think my flesh resembles green cheese?" 

No, I don't," I said, angrily, " did you ever know 
me to paint like that before?" 

No, indeed!" 

Well, thenl" 

It must be the turpentine, or something," she ad- 
mitted. 

75 



u 

■A" 

tt 

e 
tt 

tt 

tt 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

She slipped on a Japanese robe and walked to the 
window. I scraped and rubbed until I was tired, and 
finally picked up my brushes and hurled them through 
the canvas with a forcible expression, the tone alone 
of which reached Tessie's ears. 

Nevertheless she promptly began: "That's it! 
Swear and act silly and ruin your brushes! You 
have been three weeks on that study, and now look! 
What's the good of ripping the canvas? What creat- 
ures artists are!" 

I felt about as much ashamed as I usually did after 
such an outbreak, and I turned the ruined canvas to 
the wall. Tessie helped me clean my brushes, and 
then danced away to dress. From the screen she re- 
galed me with bits of advice concerning whole or par- 
tial loss of temper, tmtil thinking perhaps I had been 
tormented sufficiently, she came out to implore me to 
button her waist where she could not reach it on the 
shoulder. 

"Everything went wrong from the time you came 
back from the window and talked about that horrid- 
looking man you saw in the church-yard," she an- 
notmced. 

"Yes, he probably bewitched the picture," I said, 
yawning. I looked at my watch. 

"It's after six, I know," said Tessie, adjusting her 
hat before the mirror. 

"Yes," I repKed, "I didn't mean to keep you so 
long." I leaned out of the window, but recoiled with 
disgust, for the yoimg man with the pasty face stood 
below in the church-yard. Tessie saw my gesture of 
disapproval, and leaned from the window. 

" Is that the man you don't like?" she whispered. 

I nodded. 

" I can't see his face, but he does look fat and soft. 
Someway or other," she continued, turning to look at 

76 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

me, ''he reminds me of a dream — an awful dream — ^I 
once had. Or/' she mused, looking down at her shapely 
shoes, " was it a dream after all?" 

" How should I know?" I smiled. 

Tessie smiled in reply. 

" You were in it," she said, *' so perhaps you might 
know something about it." 

"Tessie! Tessie!" I protested, "don't you dare flat- 
ter by saying that you dream about me!" 

" But I did," she insisted. " Shall I tell you about 
it?" 

" Go ahead," I replied, lighting a cigarette. 

Tessie leaned back on the open window-sill and be- 
gan, very seriously : 

" One night last winter I was lying in bed thinking 
about nothing at all in particular. I had been posing 
for you and I was tired out, yet it seemed impossible 
for me to sleep. I heard the bells in the city ring ten, 
eleven, and midnight. I must have fallen asleep about 
midnight, because I don't remember hearing the bells 
after that. It seemed to me that I had scarcely closed 
my eyes when I dreamed that something impelled 
me to go to the window. I rose, and, raising the sash, 
leaned out. Twenty-fifth Street was deserted as far 
as I could see. I began to be afraid; everything out- 
side seemed so — so black and uncomfortable. Then 
the sound of wheels in the distance came to my ears, 
and it seemed to me as though that was what I must 
wait for. Very slowly the wheels approached, and, 
finally, I could make out a vehicle moving along the 
street. It came nearer and nearer, and when it passed 
beneath my window I saw it was a hearse. Then, as 
I trembled with fear, the driver turned and looked 
straight at me. When I awoke I was standing by the 
open window shivering with cold, but the black-plumed 
hearse and the driver were gone. I dreamed this dream 

77 






THE KING IN YELLOW 

again in March last, and again awoke beside the open 
window. Last night the dream came again. You 
remember how it was raining ; when I awoke, standing 
at the open window, my night-dress was soaked." 
But where did I come into the dream?" I asked. 
You — ^you were in the coffin; but you were not 
dead." 

" In the coffin?" 

"Yes." 

" How did you know? Could you see me?*' 

"No; I only knew you were there." 

"Had you been eating Welsh rarebits, or lobster 
salad?" I began, laughing, but the girl interrupted 
me with a frightened cry. 

"Hello! What's up?" I said, as she shrank into 
the embrasure by the window. 

"The — ^the man below in the church-yard; he drove 
the hearse." 

"Nonsense," I said; but Tessie's eyes were wide 
with terror. I went to the window and looked out. 
The man was gone. " Come, Tessie," I urged, " don't 
befooUsh. You have posed too long ; you are nervous." 

"Do you think I could forget that face?" she mur- 
mured. "Three times I saw the hearse pass below 
my window, and every time the driver turned and 
looked up at me. Oh, his face was so white and — 
and soft I It looked dead — it looked as if it had been 
dead a long time.'' 

I induced the girl to sit down and swallow a glass 
of Marsala. Then I sat down beside her and tried 
to give her some advice. 

"Look here, Tessie," I said, "you go to the coun- 
try for a week or two, and you'll have no more dreams 
about hearses. You pose all day, and when night 
comes your nerves are upset. You can't keep this 
up. Then again, instead of going to bed when your 

78 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

day's work is done^ you run oflf to picnics at Sulzer's 
Park, or go to the Eldorado or Coney Island, and when 
you come down here next morning you are fagged 
out. There was no real hearse. That was a soft- 
shell-crab dream." 
She smiled faintly. 

" What about the man in the church-yard?" 
"Oh, he's only an ordinary, unhealthy, every-day 
creature." 

" As true as my name is Tessie Rearden, I swear to 
you, Mr. Scott, that the face of the man below in the 
church-yard is the face of the man who drove the 
hearse!" 
" What of it?" I said. " It's an honest trade." 
" Then you think I did see the hearse?" 
" Oh," I said, diplomatically, " if you really did, it 
might not be unUkely that the man below drove it. 
There is nothing in that." 

Tessie rose, unrolled her scented handkerchief, and, 
taking a bit of gum from a knot in the hem, placed 
it in her mouth. Then, drawing on her gloves, she 
offered me her hand with a frank " Grood-night, Mr. 
Scott," and walked out. 



n 

THE next morning, Thomas, the bell-boy, brought 
me the Herald and a bit of news. The church 
next door had been sold. I thanked Heaven for it, 
not that I, being a CathoUc, had any repugnance for 
the congregation next door, but because my nerves 
were shattered by a blatant exhorter, whose every 
word echoed through the aisle of the church as if it 
had been my own rooms, and who insisted on his r's 
with a nasal persistence which revolted my every in- 
stinct. Then, too, there was a fiend in human shape, 
an organist, who reeled off some of the grand old hymns 
with an interpretation of his own, and 1 longed for the 
blood of a creature who could play the " Doxology " 
with an amendment of minor chords which one hears 
only in a quartet of very yoimg undergraduates. I 
beUeve the minister was a good man, but when he 
bellowed, " And the Lorrrd said unto Moses, the Lorrrd 
is a man of war; the Lorrrd is his name. My wrath 
shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sworrrdl" 
I wondered how many centuries of purgatory it would 
take to atone for such a sin. 

Who bought the property?" I asked Thomas. 

Nobody that I knows, sir. They do say the gent 
wot owns this 'ere 'Amilton flats was lookin' at it. 'E 
might be a bildin' more studios." 

I walked to the window. The young man with the 
imhealthy face stood by the church-yard gate, and at 
the mere sight of him the same overwhelming repug- 
nance took possession of me. 

80 



u 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

" By-the-way, Thomas/' I said, " who is that fellow 
down there?'' 

Thomas sniffed. "That there worm, sir? 'E's 
night-watchman of the church, sir. 'E maikes me 
tired a-sittin' out all night on them steps and lookin' 
at you insultin' Uke. I'd 'a' punched 'is 'ed, sir — beg 
pardon, sir — " 

"Go on, Thomas." 

"One night a comin' 'ome with 'Any, the other 
EngUsh boy, I sees 'im a sittin' there on them steps. 
We 'ad Molly and Jen with us, sir, the two girls on 
the tray service, an' 'e looks so insultin' at us that I 
up and sez, 'Wat you lookin' hat, you fat slug?' — 
beg pardon, sir, but that's 'ow I sez, sir. Then 'e 
don't say nothin', and I sez, ' Come out and I'll punch 
that puddin' 'ed.' Then I hopens the gate an' goes 
in, but 'e don't say nothin', only looks insultin' like. 
Then I 'its 'im one; but, ugh! 'is 'ed was that cold and 
mushy it ud sicken you to touch 'im.** 

" What did he do then?" I asked, curiously. 

"'Im? Nawthin'." 

"And you, Thomas?" 

The young fellow flushed with embarrassment, and 
smiled uneasily. 

" Mr. Scott, sir, I ain't no coward, an' I can't make 
it out at all why I run. I was in the Fifth Lawncers, 
sir, bugler at Tel-el-Kebir, an' was shot by the wells." 

"You don't mean to say you ran away?" 

"Yes, sir; I run." 

"Why?" 

"That's Just what I want to know, sir. I grabbed 
Molly an' run, an' the rest was as frightened as I." 

"But what were they frightened at?" 

Thomas refused to answer for a while ; but now my 
curiosity was aroused about the repulsive young man 
below, and I pressed him. Three years' sojourn in 
6 8i 



n 
it 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

America had not only modified Thomas's cockney dia- 
lect, but had given him the American's fear of ridicule. 
You won't believe me, Mr. Scott, sir?" 
Yes, I will." 
You will lawf at me, sir?" 

"Nonsense!" 

He hesitated. "Well, sir, it's Gawd's truth, that 
when I 'it 'im, 'e grabbed me wrists, sir, and when I 
twisted 'is soft, mushy fist one of 'is fingers come ofiF 
in me 'and." 

The utter loathing and horror of Thomas's face 
must have been reflected in my own, for he added : 

" It's orf ul, an' now when I see 'im I just go away. 
'E maikes me hill." 

When Thomas had gone I went to the window. 
The man stood beside the church railing, with both 
hands on the gate; but I hastily retreated to my easel 
again, sickened and horrified, for I saw that the mid- 
dle finger of his right hand was missing. 

At nine o'clock Tessie appeared and vanished be- 
hind the screen, with a merry "Good-morning, Mr. 
Scott." When she had reappeared and taken her 
pose upon the model -stand I started a new canvas, 
much to her delight. She remained silent as long 
as I was on the drawing, but as soon as the scrape of 
the charcoal ceased, and I took up my fixative, she be- 
gan to chatter. 

" Oh, I had such a lovely time last night. We went 
to Tony Pastor's." 

"Who are 'we'?" I demanded. 

" Oh, Maggie — you know, Mr. Whyte's model — and 
Pinkie McCormick — we call her Pinkie because she's 
got that beautiful red hair you artists like so much — 
and Lizzie Burke." 

I sent a shower of spray from the fixative over the 
canvas, and said, "Well, go on." 

82 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

" We saw Kelly^ and Baby Barnes^ the skirt-dancer, 
and — ^and all the rest. I made a mash." 

" Then you have gone back on me, Tessie?" 

She laughed and shook her head. 

"He's Lizzie Burke's brother, Ed. He's a perfect 
gen'l'man." 

I felt constrained to give her some parental advice 
concerning mashing, which she took with a bright 
smile. 

'* Oh, I can take care of a strange mash," she said, 
examining her chewing-gum, "but Ed is diflFerent. 
Lizzie is my best friend." 

Then she related how Ed had come back from the 
stocking-mill in Lowell, Massachusetts, to find her and 
Lizzie grown up — ^and what an accomplished yoimg 
man he was — ^and how he thought nothing of squan- 
dering half a dollar for ice-cream and oysters to cele- 
brate his entry as clerk into the woollen department of 
Macy's. Before she finished I began to paint, and she 
resumed the pose, smiUng and chattering Uke a spar- 
row. By noon I had the study fairly well rubbed in 
and Tessie came to look at it. 

"That's better," she said. 

I thought so, too, and ate my limch with a satisfied 
feeling that all was going well. Tessie spread her 
Itmch on a drawing-table opposite me, and we drank 
our claret from the same bottle and lighted our cigar- 
ettes from the same match. I was very much attached 
to Tessie. I had watched her shoot up into a slender 
but exquisitely formed woman from a frail, awkward 
child. She had posed for me during the last three 
years, and among all my models she was my favorite. 
It would have troubled me very much indeed had she 
become "tough" or "fly," as the phrase goes; but I 
never noticed any deterioration of her manner, and 
felt at heart that she was all right. She and I never 

83 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

discussed morals at all, and I had no intention of do- 
ing so, partly because I had none myself, and partly 
because I knew she would do what she liked in spite of 
me. Still I did hope she would steer clear of compli- 
cations, because I wished her well, and then also I had 
a selfish desire to retain the best model I had. I knew 
that mashing, as she termed it, had no significance 
with girls like Tessie, and that such things in America 
did not resemble in the least the same things in Paris. 
Yet, having hved with my eyes open, I also knew that 
somebody would take Tessie away some day, in one 
manner or another, and though I professed to myself 
that marriage was nonsense, I sincerely hoped that, in 
this case, there would be a priest at the end of the vista. 
I am a Catholic. When I listen to high mass, when I 
sign myself, I feel that everything, including myself, 
is more cheerful ; and when I confess, it does me good. 
A man who lives as much alone as I do must confess 
to somebody. Then, again, Sylvia was Catholic, and 
it was reason enough for me. But I was speaking of 
Tessie, which is very different. Tessie also was Cath- 
olic, and much more devout than I, so, taking it all in 
all, I had Uttle fear for my pretty model imtil she should 
fall in love. But then I knew that fate alone would 
decide her future for her, and I prayed inwardly that 
fate would keep her away from men like me and throw 
into her path nothing but Ed Burkes and Jimmy Mc- 
Cormicks, bless her sweet face! 

Tessie sat blowing rings of smoke up to the ceiling 
and tinkling the ice in her tumbler. 

" Do you know that I also had a dream last night?'' 
I observed. 

" Not about that man?'' she asked, laughing. 

"Exactly. A dream similar to yours, only much 
worse." 

It was foolish and thoughtless of me to say this, 

84 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

but you know how little tact the average painter 
has. 

'* I must have fallen asleep about ten o'clock/' I con- 
tinued, "and after a while I dreamed that I awoke. 
So plainly did I hear the midnight bells, the wind in 
the tree-branches, and the whistle of steamers from 
the bay, that even now I can scarcely believe I was 
not awake. I seemed to be lying in a box which had a 
glass cover. Dimly I saw the street lamps as I passed, 
for I must tell you, Tessie, the box in which I reclined 
appeared to lie in a cushioned wagon which jolted me 
over a stony pavement. After a while I became im- 
patient and tried to move, but the box was too narrow. 
My hands were crossed on my breast so I could not raise 
them to help myself. I Ustened and then tried to call. 
My voice was gone. I could hear the trample of the 
horses attached to the wagon, and even the breathing 
of the driver. Then another sound broke upon my ears 
like the raising of a window-sash. I managed to turn 
my head a little, and found I could look, not only 
through the glass cover of my box, but also through 
the glass panes in the side of the covered vehicle. I 
saw houses, empty and silent, with neither hght nor 
life about any of them excepting one. In that house 
a window was open on the first floor and a figure all in 
white stood looking down into the street. It was you." 

Tessie had turned her face away from me and leaned 
on the table with her elbow. 

" I could see your face," I resumed, " and it seemed 
to me to be very sorrowful. Then we passed on and 
turned into a narrow, black lane. Presently the horses 
stopped. I waited and waited, closing my eyes with 
fear and impatience, but all was silent as the grave. 
After what seemed to me hours, I began to feel uncom- 
fortable. A sense that somebody was close to me 
made me unclose my eyes. Then I saw the white face 

85 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

of the hearse-driver looking at me through the coffii> 
lid—'' 

A sob from Tessie interrupted me. She was trem- 
bling like a leaf. I saw I had made an ass of myself, 
and attempted to repair the damage. 

" Why, Tess/' I said, " I only told you this to show 
you what influence your story might have on another 
person's dreams. You don't suppose I really lay in a 
coffin, do you? What are you trembling for? Don't 
you see that your dream and my unreasonable dishke 
for that inoffensive watchman of the church simply set 
my brain working as soon as I fell asleep?" 

She laid her head between her arms and sobbed as if 
her heart would break. What a precious triple donkey 
I had made of myself I But I was about to break my 
record. I went over and put my arm about her. 

" Tessie, dear, forgive me," I said ; " I had no business 
to frighten you with such nonsense. You are too sen- 
sible a girl, too good a Catholic to believe in dreams." 

Her hand tightened on mine and her head fell back 
upon my shoulder, but she still trembled and I petted 
her and comforted her. 

"Come, Tess, open your eyes and smile." 

Her eyes opened with a slow, languid movement 
and met mine, but their expression was so queer that 
I hastened to reassure her again. 

" It's all humbug, Tessie. You surely are not afraid 
that any harm will come to you because of that?" 

"No," she said, but her scarlet lips quivered. 

"Then what's the matter? Are you afraid?" 

"Yes. Not for myself." 

"For me, then?" I demanded, gayly. 

"For you," she murmured, in a voice almost inau- 
dible. " I — ^I care for you." 

At first I started to laugh, but when I understood 
her a shock passed through me, and I sat like one turned 

86 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

• 

to stone. This was the crowning bit of idiocy I had 
committed. During the moment which elapsed be- 
tween her reply and my answer I thought of a thou- 
sand responses to that innocent confession. I could 
pass it by with a laugh, I could misunderstand her 
and reassure her as to my health, I could simply point 
out that it was impossible she could love me. But 
my reply was quicker than my thoughts, and I might 
think and think now when it was too late, for I had 
kissed her on the mouth. 

That evening I took my usual walk in Washington 
Park, pondering over the occurrences of the day. I 
was thoroughly committed. There was no back-out 
now, and I stared the future straight in the face. I 
was not good, not even scrupulous, but I had no idea 
of deceiving either myself or Tessie. The one pas- 
sion of my life lay buried in the sunlit forests of Brit- 
tany. Was it buried forever? Hope cried ''No I" 
For three years I had been listening to the voice of 
Hope, and for three years I had waited for a footstep 
on my threshold. Had Sylvia forgotten? "No!" 
cried Hope. 

I said that I was not good. That is true, but still 
I was not exactly a comic-opera villain. I had led an 
easy-going, reckless life, taking what invited me of 
pleasure, deploring and sometimes bitterly regretting 
consequences. In one thing alone, except my paint- 
ing, was I serious, and that was something which lay 
hidden if not lost in the Breton forests. 

It was too late now for me to regret what had oc- 
curred during the day. Whatever it had been, pity, 
a sudden tenderness for sorrow, or the more brutal 
instinct of gratified vanity, it was all the same now, 
and unless I wished to bruise an innocent heart my 
path lay marked before me. The fire and strength, 
the depth of passion of a love which I had never even 

87 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

suspected^ with all my imagined experience in the 
world, left me no alternative but to respond or send 
her away. Whether because I am so cowardly about 
giving pain to others, or whether it was that I have 
httle of the gloomy Puritan in me, I do not know, 
but I shrank from disclaiming responsibility for that 
thoughtless kiss, and, in fact, had no time to do so 
before the gates of her heart opened and the flood 
poured forth. Others who habitually do their duty 
and find a sullen satisfaction in making themselves 
and everybody else unhappy, might have withstood it. 
I did not. I dared not. After the storm had abated 
I did tell her that she might better have loved Ed Burke 
and worn a plain gold ring, but she would not hear of 
it, and I thought perhaps that as long as she had de- 
cided to love somebody she could not marry, it had 
better be me. I at least could treat her with an in- 
telligent affection, and whenever she became tired of 
her infatuation she could go none the worse for it. 
For I was decided on that point, although I knew how 
hard it would be. I remembered the usual termina- 
tion of platonic liaisons, and thought how disgusted 
I had been whenever I heard of one. I knew I was 
undertaking a great deal for so unscrupulous a man 
as I was, and I dreaded the future, but never for one 
moment did I doubt that she was safe with me. Had 
it been anybody but Tessie, I should not have bothered 
my head about scruples. For it did not occur to me 
to sacrifice Tessie as I would have sacrificed a woman 
of the world. I looked the future squarely in the face, 
and saw the several probable endings to the affair. 
She would either tire of the whole thing, or become 
so unhappy that I should have either to marry her or 
go away. If I married Jher we would be unhappy, 
I with a wife unsuited to me, and she with a husband 
unsuitable for any woman. For my past life could 

88 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

scarcely entitle me to marry. If I went away she 
might either fall ill, recover, and marry some Eddie 
Burke, or she might recklessly or deliberately go and 
do something fooUsh. On the other hand, if she tired 
of me, then her whole hfe would be before her with 
beautiful vistas of Eddie Burkes and marriage rings, 
and twins, and Harlem flats, and Heaven knows what. 
As I strolled along through the trees by the Washing- 
ton Arch, I decided that she should find a substantial 
friend in me anyway, and the future could take care 
of itself. Then I went into the house and put on my 
evening dress, for the little, faintly perfumed note on 
my dresser said, ''Have a cab at the stage door at 
eleven," and the note was signed "Edith Carmichel, 
Metropolitan Theatre." 

I took supper that night, or, rather, we took sup- 
per. Miss Carmichel and I, at Solari's, and the dawn 
was just beginning to gild the cross on the Memorial 
Church as I entered Washington Square after leaving 
Edith at the Brunswick. There was not a soul in the 
park as I passed among the trees and took the walk 
which leads from the Garibaldi statue to the Hamilton 
apartment house, but as I passed the church -yard 
I saw a figure sitting on the stone steps. In spite of 
myself a chill crept over me at the sight of the white, 
puffy face, and I hastened to pass. Then he said 
something which might have been addressed to me 
or might merely have been a mutter to himself, but a 
sudden furious anger flamed up within me that such 
a creature should address me. For an instant I felt 
like wheeling about and smashing my stick over his 
head, but I walked on, and, entering the Hamilton, 
went to my apartment. For some time I tossed about 
the bed tr3dng to get the sound of his voice out of my 
ears, but could not. It filled my head, that muttering 
sound, like thick, oily smoke from a fat-rendering vat 

89 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

or an odor of noisome decay. And as I lay and tossed 
about, the voice in my ears seemed more distinct, and 
I began to vinderstand the words he had muttered. 
They came to me slowly, as if I had forgotten them, 
and at last I could make some sense out of the sounds. 
It was this: 

" Have you found the Yellow Sign?" 

" Have you found the Yellow Sign?'' 

" Have you found the Yellow Sign?" 

I was furious. What did he mean by that? Then 
with a curse upon him and his I rolled over and went 
to sleep, but when I awoke later I looked pale and 
haggard, for I had dreamed the dream of the night 
before, and it troubled me more than I cared to think. 

I dressed and went down into my studio. Tessie 
sat by the window, but as I came in she rose and put 
both arms around my neck for an innocent kiss. She 
looked so sweet and dainty that I kissed her again, 
and then sat down before the easel. 

"Hello I Where's the study I began yesterday?" 
I asked. 

Tessie looked conscious, but did not answer. I be- 
gan to hunt among the piles of canvases, saying: 
''Hurry up, Tess, and get ready; we must take ad- 
vantage of the morning light." 

When at last I gave up the search among the other 
canvases and turned to look around the room for the 
missing study, I noticed Tessie standing by the screen 
with her clothes still on. 

What's the matter," I asked, '' don't you feel well?' 

''Yes." 
Then hurry. 

Do you want me to pose as — ^as I have always 
posed?" 

Then I understood. Here was a new complication. 
I had lost, of course, the best nude model I had ever 

90 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

seen. I looked at Tessie. Her face was scarlet. Alas I 
Alas! We had eaten of the tree of knowledge, and 
Eden and native innocence were dreams of the past — 
I mean for her. 

I suppose she noticed the disappointment on my 
face, for she said : " I will pose if you wish. The study 
is behind the screen here where I put it." 

" No," I said, " we will begin something new " ; and 
I went into my wardrobe and picked out a Moorish 
costume which fairly blazed with tinsel. It was a 
genuine costxune, and Tessie retired to the screen with 
it enchanted. When she came forth again I was as- 
tonished. Her long, black hair was bound above 
her forehead with a circlet of turquoises, and the ends 
curled about her glittering girdle. Her feet were en- 
cased in the embroidered pointed slippers, and the skirt 
of her costume, curiously wrought with arabesques 
in silver, fell to her ankles. The deep metallic blue 
vest, embroidered with silver, and the short Mauresque 
jacket, spangled and sewn with turquoises, became her 
wonderfully. She came up to me and held up her 
face, smiling. I slipped my hand into my pocket, and, 
drawing out a gold chain with a cross attached, dropped 
it over her head. 

"It's yours, Tessie." 

"Mine?" she faltered. 

"Yours. Now go and pose." Then with a radiant 
smile she ran behind the screen, and presently reap- 
peared with a Uttle box on which was written my name. 

" I had intended to give it to you when I went home 
to-night," she said, "but I can't wait now." 

I opened the box. On the pink cotton inside lay a 
clasp of black onyx, on which was inlaid a curious 
symbol or letter in gold. It was neither Arabic nor 
Chinese, nor, as I found afterwards, did it belong to 
any human script. 

91 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

" It's all I had to give you for a keepsake/' she said, 
timidly. 

I was annoyed, but I told her how much I should 
prize it, and promised to wear it always. She fastened 
it on my coat beneath the lapel. 

" How foolish, Tess, to go and buy me such a beau- 
tiful thing as this,'' I said. 

" I did not buy it," she laughed. 

"Where did you get it?" 

Then she told me how she had found it one day 
while coming from the aquarium in the Battery, how 
she had advertised it and watched the papers, but at 
last gave up all hopes of finding the owner. 

"That was last winter," she said, "the very day I 
had the first horrid dream about the hearse." 

I remembered my dream of the previous night but 
said nothing, and presently my charcoal was flying 
over a new canvas, and Tessie stood motionless on the 
model-stand. 



m 



THE day following was a disastrous one for me. 
While moving a framed canvas from one easel 
to another my foot slipped on the polished floor and 
I fell heavily on both wrists. They were so badly 
sprained that it was useless to attempt to hold a brush, 
and I was obliged to wander about the studio, glaring 
at unfinished drawings and sketches, until despair 
seized me and I sat down to smoke and twiddle my 
thumbs with rage. The rain blew against the windows 
and rattled on the roof of the church, driving me into a 
nervous fit with its interminable patter. Tessie sat 
sewing by the window, and every now and then raised 
her head and looked at me with such innocent com- 
passion that I began to feel ashamed of my irritation 
and looked about for something to occupy me. I had 
read all the papers and all the books in the library, but 
for the sake of something to do I went to the bookcases 
and shoved them open with my elbow. I knew every 
volume by its color and examined them all, passing 
slowly around the library and whistling to keep up 
my spirits. I was turning to go into the dining-room 
when my eye fell upon a book bound in serpent-skin 
standing in a comer of the top shelf of the last book- 
case. I did not remember it, and from the floor could 
not decipher the pale lettering on the back, so I went 
to the smoking-room and called Tessie. She came in 
from the studio and climbed up to reach the book. 
What is it?" I asked. 

93 



u 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



9 ff 



'"The King in Yellow. 

I was dumfounded. Who had placed it there? 
How came it in my rooms? I had long ago decided 
that I shotild never open that book, and nothing on 
earth could have persuaded me to buy it. Fearful 
lest curiosity might tempt me to open it, I had never 
even looked at it in book-stores. If I ever had had any 
curiosity to read it, the awful tragedy of yoimg Cas- 
taigne, whom I knew, prevented me from exploring 
its wicked pages. I had always refused to listen to 
any description of it, and, indeed, nobody ever ventured 
to discuss the second part aloud, so I had absolutely no 
knowledge of what those leaves might reveal. I stared 
at the poisonous, mottled binding as I would at a snake. 

"Don't touch it, Tessie,'' I said; "come down.'' 

Of course my admonition was enough to arouse her 
curiosity, and before I could prevent it she took the 
book, and, laughing, danced off into the studio with it. 
I called to her, but she slipped away with a tormenting 
smile at my helpless hands, and I followed her with 
some impatience. 

"Tessiel" I cried, entering the library, "listen; I 
am serious. Put that book away. I do not wish yx)u 
to open itl" The library was empty. I went into 
both drawing-rooms, then into the bedrooms, laun- 
dry, kitchen, and finally returned to the library and 
began a systematic search. She had hidden herself 
so well that it was half an hour later when I dis- 
covered her crouching white and silent by the latticed 
window in the store-room above. At the first glance I 
saw she had been pimished for her foolishness. "The 
King in Yellow" lay at her feet; but the book was 
open at the second part. I looked at Tessie and saw it 
was too late. She had opened " The King in Yellow." 
Then I took her by the hand and led her into the studio. 
She seemed dazed, and when I told her to lie down on 

94 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

the sofa she obeyed me without a word. After a while 
she closed her eyes and her breathing became regular 
and deep; but I could not determine whether or not 
she slept. For a long while I sat silently beside her, 
but she neither stirred nor spoke, and at last I rose 
and, entering the unused store-room, took the book in 
my least injured hand. It seemed heavy as lead; but 
I carried it into the studio again, and, sitting down on 
the rug beside the sofa, opened it and read it through 
from beginning to end. 

When, faint with the excess of my emotions, I dropped 
the volume and leaned wearily back against the sofa, 
Tessie opened her eyes and looked at me. 

We had been speaking for some time in a dull, monot- 
onous strain before I realized that we were discussing 
" The King in Yellow. '* Oh the sin of writing such 
words— words which are clear as crystal, limpid and 
musical as bubbling springs, words which sparkle and 
glow like the poisoned diamonds of the MedicisI Oh 
the wickedness, the hopeless damnation, of a soul who 
could fascinate and paralyze human creatures with 
such words — ^words understood by the ignorant and 
wise alike, words which are more precious than jewels, 
more soothing than music, more awful than death! 

We talked on, unmindful of the gathering shad- 
ows, and she was begging me to throw away the clasp 
of black onjnc quaintly inlaid with what we now knew 
to be the Yellow Sign. I never shall know why I re- 
fused, though even at this hour, here in my bedroom 
as I write this confession, I should be glad to know 
uihai it was that prevented me from tearing the Yel- 
low Sign from my breast and casting it into the fire. 
I am sure I wished to do so, and yet Tessie pleaded 
with me in vain. Night fell, and the hours dragged 
on, but still we murmured to each other of the King 

95 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

and the Pallid Mask^ and midnight sounded from the 
misty spires in the fog-wrapped city. We spoke of 
Hastur and of Cassilda, while outside the fog rolled 
against the blank window-panes as the cloud waves 
roll and break on the shores of Hah. 

The house was very silent now, and not a sound 
came up from the misty streets. Tessie lay among 
the cushions, her face a gray blot in the gloom, but 
her hands were clasped in mine, and I knew that she 
knew and read my thoughts as I read hers, for we 
had imderstood the mystery of the Hyades, and the 
Phantom of Truth was laid. Then, as we answered 
each other, swiftly, silently, thought on thought, the 
shadows stirred in the gloom about us, and far in the 
distant streets we heard a sound. Nearer and nearer 
it came — ^the dull crunching of wheels, nearer and yet 
nearer, and now, outside, before the door, it ceased, 
and I dragged myself to the window and saw a black- 
plumed hearse. The gate below opened and shut, 
and I crept, shaking, to my door, and bolted it, but I 
knew no bolts, no locks, could keep that creature out 
who was coming for the Yellow Sign. And now I 
heard him moving very softly along the hall. Now 
he was at the door, and the bolts rotted at his touch. 
Now he had entered. With eyes starting Irom my 
head I peered into the darkness, but when he came into 
the room I did not see him. It was only when I felt him 
envelop me in his cold, soft grasp that I cried out and 
struggled with deadly fury, but my hands were use- 
less, and he tore the onyx clasp from my coat and 
struck me full in the face. Then, as I fell, I heard 
Tessie's soft cry, and her spirit fled; and even while 
f aUing I longed to follow her, for I knew that the King 
in Yellow had opened his tattered mantle and there 
was only God to cry to now. 

I could tell more, but I cannot see what help it will 

96 



THE YELLOW SIGN 

be to the world. As for me, I am past htunan help 
or hope. As I lie here, writing, careless even whether 
or not I die before I finish, I can see the doctor gather- 
ing up his powders and phials with a vague gesture 
to the good priest beside me, which I imderstand. 

They will be very curious to know the tragedy—^ 
they of the outside world who write books and print 
miUions of newspapers, but I shall write no more, and 
the father confessor will seal my last words with the 
seal of sanctity when his holy office is done. They 
of the outside world may send their creatures into 
wrecked homes and death-smitten firesides, and their 
newspapers will batten on blood and tears, but with 
me their spies must halt before the confessional. They 
know that Tessie is dead, and that I am dying. They 
know how the people in the house, aroused by an in- 
fernal scream, rushed into my room, and found one 
living and two dead, but they do not know what I 
shall tell them now; they do not know that the doctor 
said, as he pointed to a horrible, decomposed heap on 
the floor — ^the livid corpse of the watchman from the 
church: "I have no theory, no explsination. That 
man must have been dead for months I" 

I think I am dying. I wish the priest would — 

7 • 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 



tt 



Mais je croy que je 
Suis descendu on puiz 
Tto^breux onquel disoit 
Heradytus estre V£rit6 cach6e/' 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 



it 



There be three things which are too wonderful for me—yea, 
four which I know not : 

" The way of an eagle in the air ; the way of a serpent upon a 
rock ; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea ; and the way of 
a man with a maid/' 



THE utter desolation of the scene began to have 
its effect; I sat down to face the situation and, 
if possible, recall to mind some landmark which might 
aid me in extricating myself from my present position. 
If I could only find the ocean again, all would be clear, 
for I knew one could see the island of Groix from the 
cliffs. 

I laid down my gun, and, kneeUng behind a rock, 
lighted a pipe. Then I looked at my watch. It was 
nearly four o'clock. I might have wandered far from 
Kerselec since daybreak. 

Standing the day before on the cliffs below Kerse- 
lec with Goulven, looking out over the sombre moors 
among which I had now lost my way, these downs 
had appeared to me level as a meadow, stretching to 
the horizon, and, although I knew how deceptive is 
distance, I could not realize that what, from Kerselec, 
seemed to be mere grassy hollows, were great valleys 
covered with gorse and heather, and what looked like 

lOI 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

scattered bowlders were, in reality, enormous cli£fs 
of granite. 

" It's a bad place for a stranger/' old Goulven had 
said; "you'd better take a guide"; and I had replied, 
"I shall not lose myself." Now I knew that I had 
lost myself, as I sat there smoking, with the sea-wind 
blowing in my face. On every side stretched the 
moorland, covered with flowering gorse and heath 
and granite bowlders. There was not a tree in sight, 
much less a house. After a while I picked up the 
gun, and, turning my back on the sun, tramped on 
again. 

There was little use in following any of the brawling 
streams which every now and then crossed my path, 
for, instead of flowing into the sea, they ran inland 
to reedy pools in the hollows of the moors. I had fol- 
lowed several, but they all led me to swamps or silent 
little ponds from which the snipe rose, peeping, and 
wheeled away in an ecstasy of fright. I began to feel 
fatigued, and the gun galled my shoulder in spite of 
the double pads. The sun sank lower and lower, 
shining level across yellow gorse and the moorland 
pools. 

As I walked, my own gigantic shadow led me on, 
seeming to lengthen at every step. The gorse scraped 
against my leggings, crackled beneath my feet, show- 
ering the brown earth with blossoms, and the brake 
bowed and billowed along my path. From tufts of 
heath rabbits scurried away through the bracken, 
and among the swamp grass I heard the wild duck's 
drowsy quack. Once a fox stole across my path, 
and agaki. as I stooped to drink at a hunying ^. a 
heron flapped heavily from the reeds beside me. I 
turned to look at the sun. It seemed to touch the 
edges of the plain. When at last I decided that it was 
useless to go on, and that I must make up my mind 

102 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

to spend at least one night on the moors, I threw my- 
self down thoroughly fagged out. The evening sun- 
light slanted warm across my body, but the sea-winds 
began to rise, and I felt a chill strike through me from 
my wet shooting - boots. High overhead gulls were 
wheeling and tossing like bits of white paper; from 
some distant marsh a solitary curlew called. Little 
by Uttle the sun sank into the plain, and the zenith 
flushed with the after-glow. I watched the sky change 
from palest gold to pink, and then to smouldering 
fire. Clouds of midges danced above me, and high in 
the calm air a bat dipped and soared. My eyelids 
b^an to droop. Then, as I shook oflF the drowsiness, 
a sudden crash among the bracken roused me. I 
raised my eyes. A great bird hung quivering in the 
air above my face. For an instant I stared, incapable 
of motion; then something leaped past me in the ferns, 
and the bird rose, wheeled, and pitched headlong into 
the brake. 

I was on my feet in an instant peering through the 
gorse. There came the sound of a struggle from a 
bunch of heather close by, and then all was quiet. I 
stepped forward, my gun poised, but when I came to 
the heather the gun fell under my arm again, and I 
stood motionless in silent astonishment. A dead hare 
lay on the ground, and on the hare stood a magnifi- 
cent falcon, one talon buried in the creature's neck, 
the other planted firmly on its limp flank. But what 
astonished me was not the mere sight of a falcon sit- 
ting upon its prey. I had seen that more than once. 
It was that the falcon was fitted with a sort of leash 
about both talons, and from the leash hung a round 
bit of metal like a sleigh-bell. The bird turned its 
fierce yellow eyes on me, and then stooped and struck 
its curved beak into the quarry. At the same instant 
hurried steps sounded among the heather, and a girl 

103 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

sprang into the covert in front. Without a glance at 
me she walked up to the falcon, and, passing her gloved 
hand under its breast, raised it from the quarry. Then 
she deftly slipped a small hood over the bird's head, 
and, holding it out on her gauntlet, stooped and picked 
up the hare. 

She passed a cord about the animal's legs and fast- 
ened the end of the thong to her girdle. Then she 
started to retrace her steps through the covert. As 
she passed me I raised my cap and she acknowledged 
my presence with a scarcely perceptible inclination. I 
had been so astonished, so lost in admiration of the 
scene before my eyes, tiiat it had not occurred to me 
that here was my salvation. But as she moved away 
I recollected that unless I wanted to sleep on a windy 
moor that night I had better recover luy speech without 
delay. At my first word she hesitated, and as I stepped 
before her I thought a look of fear came into her beau- 
tiful eyes; but as I humbly explained my unpleasant 
plight her face flushed and she looked at me in wonder. 

"Surely you did not come from Kerselecl" she re- 
peated. 

Her sweet voice had no trace of the Breton accent, 
nor of any accent which I knew, and yet there was 
something in it I seemed to have heard before, some- 
thing quaint and indefinable, like the theme of an old 
song. 

I explained that I was an American, unacquainted 
with Finistfere, shooting there for my own amuse- 
ment. 

''An American," she repeated, in the same quaint, 
musical tones. "I have never before seen an Ameri- 
can. 

For a moment she stood silent, then, looking at me, 
she said : " If you should walk all night you could not 
reach Kerselec now, even if you had a guide." 

104 



ft 
it 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

This was pleai^nt news. 

''But/' I began, "if I could only find a peasant's 
hut, where I might get something to eat, and shelter." 

The falcon on her wrist fluttered and shook its head. 
The girl smoothed its glossy back and glanced at me. 

"Look around," she said, gently. "Can you see 
the end of these moors? Look north, south, east, west. 
Can you see anything but moorland and bracken?" 
No," I said. 

The moor is wild and desolate. It is easy to enter, 
but sometimes they who enter never leave it. There 
are no peasants' huts here." 

"Well," I said, "if you will tell me in which direction 
Kerselec Ues, to-morrow it will take me no longer to 
go back than it has to come." 

She looked at me again with an expression almost 
like pity. 

"Ah," she said, "to come is easy and takes hours; 
to go is different — and may take centuries." 

I stared at her in amazement, but decided that I had 
misimderstood her. Then, before I had time to speak, 
she drew a whistle from her belt and sounded it. 

"Sit down and rest," she said to me; "you have 
come a long distance akd are tired." 

She gathered up her pleated skirts, and, motioning 
me to follow, picked her dainty way through the gorse 
to a flat rock among the ferns. 

" They will be here directly," she said, and, taking a 
seat at one end of the rock, invited me to sit down on 
the other edge. The after-glow was beginning to fade 
in the sky and a single star twinkled faintly through 
the rosy haze. A long, wavering triangle of water- 
fowl drifted southward over our heads, and from the 
swamps around plover were calling. 

"They are very beautiful — these moors," she said, 
quietly. 

105 



it 

(I 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

''Beautiful, but cruel to strangers/' I answered. 

''Beautiful and cruel/' she repeated, dreamily — 
"beautiful and cruel." 

Like a woman/' I said, stupidly. 
Oh," she cried, with a little catch in her breath, 
and looked at me. Her dark eyes met mine, and I 
thought she seemed angry or frightened. 

"Like a woman," she repeated, under her breath; 
" how cruel to say so ! " Then, after a pause, as though 
speaking aloud to herself, " How cruel for him to say 
that." 

I don't know what sort of an apology I offered for 
my inane, though harmless, speech, but I know that 
she seemed so troubled about it that I began to think I 
had said something very dreadful without knowing it, 
and remembered with horror the pitfalls and snares 
which the French language sets for foreigners. While 
I was trying to imagine what I might have said, a 
sound of voices came across the moor, and the girl rose 
to her feet. 

" No," she said, with a trace of a smile on her pale 
face, "I will not accept your apologies, monsieur; 
but I must prove you wrong, and that shall be my re- 
venge. Look. Here come Hastur and Raoul." 

Two men loomed up in the twiUght. One had a 
sack across his shoulders and the other carried a hoop 
before him as a waiter carries a tray. The hoop was 
fastened with straps to his shoulders, and around the 
edge of the circlet sat three hooded falcons fitted with 
tinkling bells. The girl stepped up to the falconer, 
and with a quick turn of her wrist transferred her 
falcon to the hoop, where it quickly sidled off and nes- 
tled among its mates, who shook their hooded heads 
and ruffled their feathers till the belled jesses tinkled 
again. The other man stepped forward and, bowing 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

respectfully, took up the hare and dropped it into the 
game-sack. 

"These are my piqueurs/' said the girl, turning to 
me with a gentle dignity. " Raoul is a good faucot^ 
nier and I shall some day make him grand veneur. 
Hastur is incomparable.'' 

The two silent men saluted me respectfully. 

"Did I not tell you, monsieur, that I should prove 
you wrong?" she continued. "This, then, is my re- 
venge, that you do me the courtesy of accepting food 
and shelter at my own house." 

Before I could answer she spoke to the falconers, 
who started instantly across the heath, and with a 
gracious gesture to me she followed. I don't know 
whether I made her understand how profoundly grate- 
ful I felt, but she seemed pleased to Usten as we walked 
over the dewy heather. 

"Are you not very tired?" she asked. 

I had clean forgotten my fatigue in her presence, 
and I told her so. 

" Don't you think your gallantry is a Uttle old-fash- 
ioned?" she said; and when I looked confused and 
humbled, she added, quietly, " Oh, 1 like it ; I like every- 
thing old-fashioned, and it is deUghtful to hear you 
say such pretty things." 

The moorland around us was very still now under 
its ghostly sheet of mist. The plover had ceased 
their caUing; the crickets and all the little creatures of 
the fields were silent as we passed, yet it seemed to me 
as if I could hear them beginning again far behind us. 
Well in advance the two tall falconers strode across 
the heather, and the faint jingling of the hawk's bells 
came to our ears in distant, murmuring chimes. 

Suddenly a splendid hound dashed out of the mist 
in front, followed by another and another, tmtil half 
a dozen or more were bounding and leaping around 

107 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

the girl beside me. She caressed and quieted them 
with her gloved hand, speaking to them in quaint 
terms which I remembered to have seen in old French 
manuscripts. 

Then the falcons on the circlet borne by the falconer 
ahead began to beat their wings and scream, and from 
somewhere out of sight the notes of a hunting-horn 
floated across the moor. The hounds sprang away 
before us and vanished in the twilight, the falcons 
flapped and squealed upon their perch, and the girl, 
taking up the song of the horn, began to hum. Clear 
and mellow her voice sounded in the night air : 

" Chasseur, chasseur, chassez encore, 
Quittez Rosette et Jeanneton, 
Tonton, tonton, tontaine, tonton, 
Ou, pour, rabattre, d&s I'aurore, 
Que les Amours soient de planton, 
Tonton, tontaine, tonton." 

As I listened to her lovely voice, a gray mass which 
rapidly grew more distinct loomed up in front, and the 
horn rang out joyously through the tumult of the 
hounds and falcons. A torch glimmered at a gate, 
a Ught streamed through an opening door, and we 
stepped upon a wooden bridge which trembled under 
our feet, and rose creaking and straining behind us 
as we passed over the moat and into a small stone 
court, walled on every side. From an open doorway 
a man came, and, bending in salutation, presented a 
cup to the girl beside me. She took the cup and touched 
it with her lips, then lowering it, turned to me and 
said, in a low voice, "I bid you welcome.'' 

At that moment one of the falconers came with an- 
other cup, but before handing it to me presented it to 
the girl, who tasted it. The falconer made a gesture 
to receive it, but she hesitated a moment, and then, 

io8 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

stepping forward, oflFered me the cup with her own 
hands. I felt this to be an act of extraordinary gra- 
ciousness, but hardly knew what was expected of 
me, and did not raise it to my lips at once. The girl 
flushed crimson. I saw that I must act quickly. 

''Mademoiselle," I faltered, "a stranger whom you 
have saved from dangers he may never realize, emp- 
ties this cup to the gentlest and loveliest hostess of 
France." 

" In His name," she murmured, crossing herself as 
I drained the cup. Then, stepping into the doorway, 
she turned to me with a pretty gesture, and taking my 
hand in hers led me into the house, saying again and 
again : " You are very welcome — ^indeed^ you are wel- 
come to the ChAteau d'Ys." 



n 

I AWOKE next morning with the music of the horn 
in my eaus, and, leaping out of the ancient bed, 
went to a curtained window where the sunhght filtered 
through httle, deep-set panes. The horn ceased as I 
looked into the court below. 

A man who might have been brother to the two 
falconers of the night before stood in the midst of a 
pack of hounds. A curved horn was strapped over 
his back and in his hand he held a long-lashed whip. 
The dogs whined and yelped, dancing around him in 
anticipation; there was the stamp of horses, too, in 
the walled yard. 

" Moimt I" cried a voice in Breton, and with a clatter 
of hoofs the two falconers, with falcons upon their 
wrists, rode into the court-yard among the hotmds. 
Then I heard another voice which sent the blood throb- 
bing through my heart : " Piriou Louis, hunt the hounds 
well, and spare neither spur nor whip. Thou, Raoul, 
and thou, Gaston, see that the ipervier does not prove 
himself niais, and if it be best in your judgment, faites 
courtoisie tt Voiseau, Jardiner un oiseau like the 
mu^ there on Hastur's wrist is not di£Gicult, but thou, 
Raoul, mayst not find it so simple to govern that 
hagard. Twice last week he foamed au vif and lost the 
beccade, although he is used to the leurre. The bird 
acts like a stupid branchier. Pattre un hagard n'est 
pas si facile," 

Was I dreaming? The old language of falconry, 

no 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

which I had read in yellow manuscripts — ^the old for- 
gotten French of the Middle Ages, was sounding in 
my ears while the hounds bayed and the hawk's bells 
tinkled accompaniment to the stamping horses. She 
spoke again in the sweet, forgotten language : 

" K you would rather attach the Umg^ and leave your 
hagard au bloc, Raoul, I shall say nothing ; for it were 
a pity to spoil so fair a day's sport with an ill-trained 
sors, Essimer abaisser — it is possibly the best way. 
Qa lui donnera des reins. I was perhaps hasty with 
the bird. It takes time to pass h la fiii^e and the ex- 
ercises d'escap," 

Then the falconer Raoul bowed in his stirrups and 
replied : " If it be the pleasure of mademoiselle, I shall 
keep the hawk." 

" It is my wish/' she answered. " Falconry I know, 
but you have yet to give me many a lesson in autour- 
serie, my poor Raoul. Sieur Piriou Louis, moimtl" 

The huntsman sprang into an archway and in an 
instant returned, momited upon a strong black horse, 
followed by a piqueur, also mounted. 

"Ahl" she cried, joyously, "speed Glemarec Ren£I 
speed I speed all I Sound thy horn, Sieur Piriou I" 

The silvery music of the hunting-horn filled the 
court-yard, the hounds sprang through the gateway, 
and galloping hoof-beats pltmged out of the paved 
court; loud on the drawbridge, suddenly muflBed, 
then lost in the heather and bracken of the moors. 
Distant and more distant sounded the horn, until it 
became so faint that the sudden carol of a soaring 
lark drowned it in my ears. I heard the voice below 
responding to some call from within the house. 

"I do not regret the chase; I will go another time. 
Courtesy to the stranger, P61agie, remember!" 

And a feeble voice came quavering from within the 
house, " Caurtoisie," 

III 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

I stripped and rubbed myself from head to foot in 
the huge earthen basin of icy water which stood upon 
the stone floor at the foot of my bed. Then I looked 
about for my clothes. They were gone, but on a settle 
near the door lay a heap of garments, which I inspect- 
ed with astonishment. As my clothes had vanished, 
I was compelled to attire myself in the costume which 
had evidently been placed there for me to wear while 
my own clothes dried. Everjrthing was there — cap, 
shoes, and hunting doublet of silvery gray homespun; 
but the close-fitting costume and seamless shoes be- 
longed to another century, and I remembered the 
strange costumes of the three falconers in the court- 
yard. I was sure that it was not the modem dress 
of any portion of France or Brittany; but not until I 
was dressed and stood before a mirror between the 
windows did I realize that I was clothed much more 
like a young huntsman of the Middle Ages than like 
a Breton of that day. I hesitated and picked up the 
cap. Should I go down and present myself in that 
strange guise? There seemed to be no help for it; 
my own clothes were gone, and there was no bell in 
the ancient chamber to call a servant, so I contented 
myself with removing a short hawk's feather from the 
cap, and, opening the door, went down-stairs. 

By the fireplace in the large room at the foot of the 
stairs an old Breton woman sat spinning with a dis- 
tafif. She looked up at me when I appeared, and, 
smiling frankly, wished me health in the Breton lan- 
guage, to which I laughingly replied in French. At 
the same moment my hostess appeared and returned 
my salutation with a grace and dignity that sent a 
thrill to my heart. Her lovely head, with its dark, 
curly hair, was crowned with a head-dress which set 
all doubts as to the epoch of my own costume at rest. 
Her slender figure was exquisitely set off in the home- 

U2 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

spun hunting-gown edged with silver, and on her 
gauntlet-covered wrist she bore one of her petted hawks. 
With perfect simpUcity she took my hand and led me 
into the garden in the court, and seating herself be- 
fore a table invited me very sweetly to sit beside her. 
Then she asked me, in her soft, quaint accent, how I 
had passed the night, and whether I was very much 
inconvenienced by wearing the clothes which old P6- 
lagie had put there for me while I slept. I looked at 
my own clothes and shoes, drying in the sun by the 
garden-wall, and hated them. What horrors they 
were, compared with the graceful costume which I 
now wore I I told her this, laughing, but she agreed 
with me very seriously. 

"We will throw them away," she said, in a quiet 
voice. In my astonishment I attempted to explain 
that I not only could not think of accepting clothes 
from anybody, although, for all I knew, it might be 
the custom of hospitahty in that part of the country, 
but that I should cut an impossible figure if I returned 
to France clothed as I was then. 

She laughed and tossed her pretty head, saying 
something in old French which I did not understand, 
and then P61agie trotted out with a tray on which stood 
two bowls of milk, a loaf of white bread, fruit, a plat- 
ter of honeycomb, and a flagon of deep red wine. " You 
see, I have not ypt broken my fast, because I wished 
you to eat with me. But I am very himgry," she 
smiled. 

"I would rather die than forget one word of what 
you have said!" I blurted out, while my cheeks burned. 
" She will think me mad," I added to myself, but she 
turned to me with sparkling eyes. 

"Ah I" she murmured. "Then monsieur knows 
all that there is of chivalry — " 

She crossed herself and broke bread; I sat a^d 

» 113 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

watched her white hands, not daring to raise my eyes 
to hers. 

" Will you not eat?" she asked. " Why do you look 
so troubled?'' 

Ah, why? I knew it now. I knew I would give 
my life to touch with my lips those rosy palms; I 
tmderstood now that from the moment when I looked 
into her dark eyes there on the moor last night I had 
loved her. My great and sudden passion held me 
speechless. 

" Are you ill at ease?'' she asked again. 

Then, Uke a man who pronounces his own doom, I 
answered, in a low voice : " Yes, I am ill at ease for love 
of you." And, as she did not stir nor answer, the 
same power moved my lips in spite of me, and I said : 
" I, who am unworthy of the Ughtest of your thoughts, 
I, who abuse hospitahty and repay your gentle court- 
esy with bold prestunption — I love you." 

She leaned her head upon her hands, and answered, 
softly : " I love you. Your words are very dear to me. 
I love you." 

"Then I shall win you." 

" Win me," she replied. 

But all the time I had been sitting silent, my face 
turned towards her. She, also silent, her sweet face 
resting on her upturned palm, sat facing me, and as 
her eyes looked into mine I knew that neither she nor 
I had spoken human speech; but I knew that her soul 
had answered mine, and I drew myself up, feeling 
youth and joyous love coursing through every vein. 
She, with a bright color in her lovely face, seemed as 
one awakened from a dream, and her eyes sought 
mine with a questioning glance which made me trem- 
ble with dehght. We broke our fast, speaking of our- 
selves. I told her my name and she told me hers — 
the Demoiselle Jeanne d'Ys. 

114 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

She spoke of her father and mother's death, and 
how the nineteen of her years had been passed in the 
httle fortified farm alone with her nm-se P61agie, Gle- 
marec Ren6 the piqueur, and the four falconers, Raoul, 
Gaston, Hastur, and the Sieur Piriou Louis, who had 
served her father. She had never been outside the 
moorland — never even had seen a human soul before, 
except the falconers and P61agie. She did not know 
how she had heard of Kerselec; perhaps the falconers 
had spoken of it. She knew the legends of Loup 
Garou and Jeanne la Flamme from her nurse P^lagie. 
She embroidered and spun flax. Her hawks and 
hoimds were her only distraction. When she had met me 
there on the moor she had been so frightened that she 
almost dropped at the soimd of my voice. She had, it 
was true, seen ships at sea from the cliffs, but, as far 
as the eye could reach, the moors over which she gal- 
loped were destitute of any sign of human life. There 
was a legend which old P61agie told, how anybody 
once lost in the unexplored moorland might never 
return, because the moors were enchanted. She did 
not know whether it was true; she never had thought 
about it until she met me. She did not know whether 
the falconers had even been outside, or whether they 
could go if they would. The books in the house which 
P61agie the nurse had taught her to read were hun- 
dreds of years old. 

All this she told me with a sweet seriousness sel- 
dom seen in any one but children. My own name 
she found easy to pronounce, and insisted, because 
my first name was Philip, I must have French blood 
in me. She did not seem curious to learn anything 
about the outside world, and I thought perhaps she 
considered it had forfeited her interest and respect 
from the stories of her nurse. 

We were still sitting at the table, and she was throw- 
US 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

ing grapes to the small field-birds which came fear- 
lessly to our very feet. 

I began to speak in a vague way of going, but she 
would not hear of it, and before I knew it I had prom- 
ised to stay a week and hunt with hawk and hound 
in their company. I also obtained permission to come 
again from Kerselec and visit her after my return. 

"Why," she said, innocently, "I do not know what 
I should do if you never came back "; and I, knowing 
that I had no right to awaken her with the sudden 
shock which the avowal of my own love would bring 
to her, sat silent, hardly daring to breathe. 

" You will come very often?" she asked. 

"Very often," I said. 

"Every day?" 

"Everyday." 

"Oh," she sighed, "I am very happy — come and 
see my hawks." 

She rose and took my hand again with a childlike 
innocence of possession, and we walked through the 
garden and fruit trees to a grassy lawn which was 
bordered by a brook. Over the lawn were scattered 
fifteen or twenty stumps of trees — partially imbedded 
in the grass — and upon all of these except two sat 
falcons. They were attached to the stumps by thongs, 
which were in turn fastened with steel rivets to their 
legs just above the talons. A little stream of pure 
spring water flowed in a winding course within easy 
distance of each perch. 

The birds set up a clamor when the girl appeared, 
but she went from one to another, caressing some, 
taking others for an instant upon her wrist, or stoop- 
ing to adjust their jesses. 

"Are they not pretty?" she said. "See, here is a 
falcon-gentil. We call it 'ignoble,' because it takes 
the quarry in direct chase. This is a blue falcon. 

ii6 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

In falconry we call it ' noble/ because it rises over the 
quarry, and, wheeling, drops upon it from above. This 
white bird is a gerfalcon from the North. It is also 
'noble.' Here is a merlin, and this tiercelet is a fal- 
con-heroner. " 

I asked her how she had learned the old language 
of falconry. She did not remember, but thought her 
father must have taught it to her when she was very 
young. 

Then she led me away and showed me the yoimg 
falcons still in the nest. ''They are termed niais in 
falconry," she explained. "A branchier is the yoimg 
bird which is just able to leave the nest and hop from 
branch to branch. A young bird which has not yet 
moulted is called a sors, and a mui is a hawk which 
has moulted in captivity. When we catch a wild 
falcon which has changed its plumage we term it a 
hagard. Raoul first taught me to dress a falcon. 
Shall I teach you how it is done?" 

She seated herself on the bank of the stream among 
the falcons and I threw myself at her feet to listen. 

Then the Demoiselle d'Ys held up one rosy-tipped 
finger and began very gravely. 

"First one must catch the falcon." 

"I am caught," I answered. 

She laughed very prettily and told me my dressage 
would perhaps be difficidt, as I was noble. 

" I am already tamed," I repUed ; " jessed and 
belled." 

She laughed, deUghted. "Oh, my brave falcon; 
then you will return at my call?" 

"1 am yoiurs," I answered, gravely. 

She sat silent for a moment. Then the color height- 
ened in her cheeks and she held up her finger again, 
saying, "Listen, I wish to speak of falconry — " 

"I hsten. Countess Jeanne d'Ys." 

117 



it 
it 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

But again she fell into the reverie, and her eyes 
seemed fixed on something beyond the summer 
clouds. 

Philip/' she said, at last. 

Jeanne/' I whispered. 

That is all — that is what I wished/' she sighed — 

Philip and Jeanne." 

She held her hand towards me and I touched it with 
my lips. 

"Win me/' she said; but this time it was the body 
and soul which spoke in imison. 

After a while she began again: "Let us speak of 
falconry." 

"Begin/' I replied; "we have caught the falcon." 

Then Jeanne d'Ys took my hand in both of hers 
and told me how with infinite patience the young fal- 
con was taught to perch upon the wrist, how little by 
little it became used to the belled jesses and the chap- 
eron ft cornette. 

They must first have a good appetite/' she said; 
then little by little I reduce their nourishment, which 
in falconry we call p6t. When, after many nights 
passed au bloc, as these birds are now, I prevail upon 
the hagard to stay quietly on the wrist, then the bird is 
ready to be taught to come for its food. I fix the pAt 
to the end of a thong, or leurre, and teach the bird to 
come to me as soon as I begin to whirl the cord in circles 
about my head. At first I drop the pdt when the fal- 
con comes, and he eats the food on the ground. After 
a Uttle he will learn to seize the leurre in motion as I 
whirl it around my head, or drag it over the ground. 
After this it is easy to teach the falcon to strike at game, 
always remembering to 'faire courtoisie H I'oiseau/ 
that is, to allow the bird to taste the quarry." 

A squeal from one of the falcons interrupted her, 
and she arose to adjust the longe which had become 

Ii8 



<€ 
tt 



THE DEMOISELLE D'YS 

■ 

whipped about the bloc, but the bird still flapped its 
wings and screamed. 

"What is the matter?" she said; "Phihp, can you 
see?" 

I looked around^ and at first saw nothing to cause 
the commotion, which was now heightened by the 
screams and flapping of all the birds. Then my eye 
fell upon the flat rock beside the stream from which 
the girl had risen. A gray serpent was moving slowly 
across the surface of the bowlder, and the eyes in its 
flat, triangular head sparkled like jet 

"A couleuvre," she said, quietly. 

''It is harmless, is it not ?" I asked. 

She pointed to the black, V-shaped figure on the 
neck. 

"It is certain death," she said; "it is a viper." 

We watched the reptile moving slowly over the 
smooth rock to where the sunlight fell in a broad, 
warm patch, 

1 started forward to examine it, but she clung to my 
arm, crying, "Don't, Philip, I am afraid!" 

"For me?" 

"For you, Philip — ^I love you." 

Then I took her in my arms and kissed her on the 
lips, but all I could say was, " Jeanne, Jeanne, Jeanne. " 
And as she lay trembling on my breast something 
struck my foot in the grass below, but I did not heed 
it. Then again something struck my ankle, and a 
sharp pain shot through me. I looked into the sweet 
face of Jeanne d'Ys and kissed her, and with all my 
strength lifted her in my arms and fiimg her from me. 
Then, bending, I tore the viper from my ankle and set 
my heel upon its head. I remember feeling weak and 
numb — ^I remember falling to the groimd. Through 
my slowly glazing eyes I saw Jeanne's white face 
bending close to mine, and when the light in my eyes 

119 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

went out I still felt her arms about my neck, and her 
soft cheek against my drawn Ups. 

When I opened my eyes I looked around in terror. 
Jeanne was gone. I saw the stream and the flat rock ; 
I saw the crushed viper in the grass beside me, but the 
hawks and blocs had disappeared. I sprang to my 
feet. The garden, the fruit trees, the drawbridge, and 
the walled court were gone. I stared stupidly at a heap 
of cnmibling ruins, ivy-covered and gray, through 
which great trees had pushed their way. I crept for- 
ward, dragging my ntmibed foot, and as I moved a 
falcon sailed from the tree-tops among the ruins, and, 
soaring, mounting in narrowing circles, faded and van- 
ished in the clouds above. 

" Jeannel Jeanne I " I cried, but my voice died on my 
lips, and I fell on my knees among the weeds. And as 
God willed it, I, not knowing, had fallen kneeling be- 
fore a crumbling shrine carved in stone for our Mother 
of Sorrows. I saw the sad face of the Virgin wrought 
in the cold stone. I saw the cross and thorns at her 
feet, and beneath it I read : 

* Pray for the soul op the 
Demoiselle Jeanne d'Ys, 

WHO DIED 

in her youth for love op 

Philip, a Stranger. 

A.D. 1573." 



But upon the icy slab lay a woman's glove still warm 
and fragrant. 



THE PROPHETS' PARADISE 



II 



If but the vine and love-abjuring band 
Are in the Prophets' Paradise to stand. 
Alack, I doubt the Prophets' Paradise 
Were empty as the hollow of one's hand." 



THE PROPHETS' PARADISE 



THE STUDIO 

HE smiled, saying, "Seek her throughout the 
world." 
I said: "Why tell me of the world? My world is 
here, between these walls and the sheet of glass above; 
here among gilded flagons and dull jewelled arms, tar- 
nished frames and canvases, black chests and high- 
backed chairs, quaintly carved and stained in blue 
and gold." 

For whom do you wait?" he said, and I answered. 
When she comes I shall know her." 
On my hearth a tongue of fliame whispered secrets 
to the whitening ashes. In the street below I heard 
footsteps, a voice, and a song. 

"For whom, then, do you wait?" he said, and I 
answered, "I ^all know her." 

Footsteps, a voice, and a song in the street below, 
and I knew the song, but neither the steps nor the 






voice. 



Fool I" he cried, "the song is the same, the voice 
and steps have but changed with years I" 

On the hearth a tongue of flame whispered above 
the whitening ashes : " Wait no more ; they have passed 
— the steps and the voice in the street below." 

123 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

Then he smiled, saying, "For whom do you wait? 
Seek her throughout the world 1*' 

I answered : " My world is here between these walls 
and the sheet of glass above; here among gilded 
flagons and dull jewelled arms, tarnished frames 
and canvases, black chests and high-backed chairs, 
quaintly carved and stained in blue and gold." 



THE PROPHETS' PARADISE 



THE PHANTOM 

The Phantom of the Past would go no further. 

"If it is true/' she sighed, "that you find in me a 
friend, let us turn back together. You will forget, 
here, imder the summer sky." 

I held her close, pleading, caressing; I seized her, 
white with anger, but she resisted. 

"If it is true," she sighed, "that you find in me a 
friend, let us turn back together. " 

The Phantom of the Past would go no further. 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



THE SACRIFICE 

I WENT into a field of flowers, whose petals are whiter 
than snow and whose hearts are pure gold. 

Far afield a woman cried, " I have killed him I loved I " 
and from a jar she poured blood upon the flowers whose 
petals are whiter than snow and whose hearts are 
pure gold. 

Far afield I followed, and on the jar I read a thou- 
sand names, while from within the fresh blood bubbled 
to the brim. 

** I have killed him I loved I " she cried. " The world's 
athirst; now let it drink I" She passed, and far afield 
I watched her pouring blood upon the flowers whose 
petals are whiter than snow and whose hearts are pure 
gold. 



THE PROPHETS' PARADISE 



44 



DESTINY 

I CAME to the bridge which few may pass. 

Pass I" cried the keeper, but I laughed, saying. 
There is time" ; and he smiled and shut the gates. 

To the bridge which few may pass came young and 
old. All were refused. Idly I stood and counted 
them, until, wearied of their noise and lamentations, 
I came again to the bridge which few may pass. 

Those in the throng about the gates shrieked out: 
"He comes too late I" But I laughed, saying, "There 
is time." 

"Pass!"' cried the keeper as I entered; then smiled 
and shut the gates. 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



it 



THE THRONG 

There, where the throng was thickest in the street, 
I stood with Pierrot. All eyes were turned on me. 

"What are they laughing at?" I asked; but he 
grinned, dusting the chalk from my black cloak. "I 
cannot see; it must be something droll, perhaps an 
honest thief I" 

All eyes were turned on me. 
He has robbed you of your purse I" they laughed. 
My purse!" I cried ; " Pierrot — ^helpl It is a thief I" 

They laughed : " He has robbed you of your purse!" 

Then Truth stepped out, holding a mirror. "If he 
is an honest thief," cried Truth, "Pierrot shall find 
him with this mirror!" But he only grinned, dusting 
the chalk from my black cloak. 

"You see," he said, "Truth is an honest thief; she 
brings you back your mirror. " 

All eyes were turned on me. 

"Arrest Truth!" I cried, forgetting it was not a 
mirror but a purse I lost, standing with Pierrot, there, 
where the throng was thickest in the street. 



THE PROPHETS' PARADISE 



THE JESTER 

"Was she fair?" I asked, but he only chuckled, 
listening to the bells jingling on his cap. 

"Stabbed," he tittered; "think of the long journey, 
the days of peril, the dreadful nights! Think how 
he wandered, for her sake, year after year, through 
hostile lands, yearning for kith and kin, yearning for 
her I 

"Stabbed," he tittered, listening to the bells jingling 
on his cap. 

" Was she fair?" I asked, but he only snarled, mutter- 
ing to the bells jingling on his cap. 

"She kissed him at the gate," he tittered, "but in 
the hall his brother's welcome touched his heart." 
Was she fair?" I asked. 

Stabbed," he chuckled; "think of the long journey, 
the days of peril, the dreadful nights I Think how 
he wandered, for her sake, year after year, through 
hostile lands, yearning for kith and kin, yearning for 
her I 

"She kissed him at the gate, but in the hall his 
brother's welcome touched his heart." 

" Was she fair?" I asked ; but he only snarled, listen- 
ing to the bells jingling on his cap. 



tt 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



THE GREEN-ROOM 

The Clown turned his powdered face to the mirror. 

"If to be fair is to be beautiful/' he said, "who can 
compare with me in my white mask?" 

"Who can compare with him in his white mask?" 
I asked of Death beside me. 

"Who can compare with me?" said Death, "for I 
am paler still." 

" You are very beautiful," sighed the Clown, turning 
his powdered face from the mirror. 



THE PROPHETS' PARADISE 



THE LOVE TEST 

" If it is true that you love/' said Love, ** then wait 
no longer. Give her these jewels, which would dis- 
honor her and so dishonor you in loving one dis- 
honored. If it is true that you love/' said Love, " then 
wait no longer." 

I took the jewels and went to her, but she trod upon 
them, sobbing, "Teach me to wait — I love you I" 

" Then wait, if it is true," said Love. 



THE STREET OF THE 
FOUR WINDS 



€t 



tt 



Feime tes yeux & demi, 
Croise tes bras sur ton sein, 
£t de ton cceur endormi 
Chasse It jamais tout dessein. 

* * * * 

Je chante la nature, 

Les 6toiles du soir, les larmes du matin, 
Les couchers de soleil h Thorizon lointain, 
Le ciel qui parle au cceur d'existence future]" 



THE STREET OF THE 
FOUR WINDS 



THE animal paused on the threshold^ interroga- 
tive, alert, ready for flight if necessary. Severn 
laid down his palette and held out a hand of welcome. 
The cat remained motionless, her yellow eyes fastened 
upon Severn. 

"Puss," he said, in his low, pleasant voice, "come 
in. 

The tip of her thin tail twitched imcertainly. 

"Come in," he said again. 

Apparently she found his voice reassuring, for she 
slowly settled upon all -fours, her eyes still fastened 
upon him, her tail tucked tmder her gatmt flanks. 

He rose from his easel smiling. She eyed him quiet- 
ly, and when he walked towards her she watched him 
bend above her without a wince; her eyes followed his 
hand until it touched her head. Then she uttered a 
ragged mew. 

It had long been Severn's custom to converse with 
animals, probably because he Uved so much alone; 
and now he said, "What's the matter, puss?" 

Her timid eyes sought his. 

"I understand," he said, gently; "you shall have 
it at once." 

135 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

Then, moving quietly about, he busied himself with 
the duties of a host, rinsed a saucer, filled it with the 
rest of the milk from the bottle on the window-sill, 
and, kneeling down, crumbled a roll into the hollow 
of his hand. 

The creature rose and crept towards the saucer. 

With the handle of a palette-knife he stirred the 
crumbs and milk together, and stepped back as she 
thrust her nose into the mess. He watched her in ** 
silence. From time to time the saucer kUnked upon 
the tiled floor as she reached for a morsel on the rim; 
and at last the bread was all gone, and her purple 
tongue travelled over every imlicked spot until the 
saucer shone Uke polished marble. Then she sat 
up, and, coolly turning her back to him, began her 
ablutions. 

"Keep it up," said Severn, much interested; "you 
need it." 

She flattened one ear, but neither turned nor inter- 
rupted her toilet. As the grime was slowly removed, 
Severn observed that nature had intended her for a 
white cat. Her fur had disappeared in patches, from 
disease or the chances of war, her tail was bony, and 
her spine sharp. But what charms she had were be- 
coming apparent under vigorous licking, and he wait- 
ed until she had finished before reopening the con- 
versation. When at last she closed her eyes and 
folded her forepaws under her breast, he began again, 
very gently: "Puss, tell me your troubles." 

At the sound of his voice she broke into a harsh 
rumbling which he recognized as an attempt to purr. 
He bent over to rub her cheek and she mewed again, 
an amiable, inquiring Uttle mew, to which he replied, 
"Certainly, you are greatly improved, and when you 
recover your plumage you will be a gorgeous bird." 
Much flattered, she stood up and marched around 

136 



THE STREET OF THE FOUR WINDS 

and around his legs^ pushing her head between them 
and making pleased remarks/ to which he responded 
with grave pohteness. 

" Now what sent you here/' he said — " here into the 
Street of the Four Winds, and up five flights to the 
very door where you would be welcome? What was 
it that prevented your meditated flight when I turned 
from my canvas to encounter your yellow eyes? Are 
you a Latin Quarter cat as I am a Latin Quarter man? 
And why do you wear a rose-colored flowered garter 
buckled about your neck?" The cat had climbed into 
his lap and now satrpurring as he passed his hand 
over her thin coat. 

"Excuse me/' he continued, in lazy, soothing tones, 
harmonizing with her purring, "if I seem indelicate, 
but I cannot help musing on this rose-colored garter, 
flowered so quaintly and fastened with a silver clasp. 
For the clasp is silver; I can see the mint-mark on the 
edge, as is prescril)ed by the law of the French Re- 
public. Now, why is this garter, woven of rose silk 
and delicately embroidered — why is this silken garter 
with its silver clasp about your famished throat? Am 
I indiscreet when I inquire if its owner is your owner? 
Is she some aged dame, Uving in memory of youth- 
ful vanities, fond, doting on you, decorating you with 
her intimate personal attire? The circumference of 
the garter would suggest this, for your neck is thin, 
and the garter fits you. But then, again, I notice — I 
notice most things — ^that the garter is capable of being 
much enlarged. These small silver-rimmed eyelets, of 
which I count five, are proof of that. And now I ob- 
serve that the fifth eyelet is worn out, as though the 
tongue of the clasp were accustomed to lie there. That 
seems to argue a well-rounded form." 

The cat curled her toes in contentment. The street 
was very still outside. 

137 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

He munnured on: "Why should your mistress 
decorate you with an article most necessary to her at 
all times? — Anyway, at most times? How did she 
come to slip this bit of silk and silver about your neck? 
Was it the caprice of a moment — when you, before 
you had lost your pristine plumpness, marched sing- 
ing into her bedroom to bid her good-morning? Of 
course, and she sat up among the pillows, her coiled 
hair tumbling to her shoulders, as you sprang upon 
the bed purring: 'Good-day, my lady/ Oh, it. is very 
easy to understand,'* he yawned, resting his head on 
the back of the chair. The cat still purred, tighten- 
ing and relaxing her padded claws over his knee. 

" Shall I tell you all about her, cat? She is very 
beautiful — ^your mistress,'' he murmured, drowsily, 
"and her hair is heavy as burnished gold. I could 
paint her — not on canvas, for I should need shades 
and tones and hues and dyes more splendid than the 
iris of a splendid rainbow. I could only paint her 
with closed eyes, for in dreams alone can such colors 
as I need be found. For her eyes, I must have azure 
from skies untroubled by a cloud — the skies of dream- 
land. For her lips, roses from the palaces of slum- 
berland; and for her brow, snow-drifts from moun- 
tains which tower in fantastic pinnacles to the moons 
— oh, much higher than our moon here; the crystal 
moons of dreamland. She is — ^very — beautiful, your 
mistress." 

The words died on his lips and his eyelids drooped. 

The cat, too, was asleep, her cheek turned up upon 
her wasted flank, her paws relaxed and limp. 



II 



" IT is fortunate," said Severn, sitting up and stretch- 

1 ing, " that we have tided over the dinner hour, 
for I have nothing to offer you for supper but what 
may be purchased with one silver franc." 

The cat on his knee rose, arched her back, yawned, 
and looked up at him. 

"What shall it be? A roast chicken with salad? 
No? Possibly you prefer beef? Of course— and I 
shall try an egg and some white bread. Now for the 
wines. Milk for you? Good. I shall take a Uttle 
water, fresh from the wood," with a motion towards 
the bucket in the sink. 

He put on his hat and left the room. The cat fol- 
lowed to the door, and after he had closed it behind 
him she settled down, smelling at the cracks, and 
cocking one ear at every creak from the crazy old 
building. 

The door below opened and shut. The cat looked 
serious, for a moment doubtful, and her ears flattened 
in nervous expectation. Presently she rose with a 
jerk of her tail and started on a noiseless tour of the 
studio. She sneezed at a pot of turpentine, hastily 
retreating to the table, which she presently mounted, 
and, having satisfied her curiosity concerning a roll 
of red modelling wax, returned to the door and sat 
down with her eyes on the crack over the threshold. 
Then she lifted her voice in a thin plaint. 

When Severn returned he looked grave, but the 

139 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

cat, joyous and demonstrative, marched around him, 
rubbing her gaunt body against his legs, driving her 
head enthusiastically into his hand, and purring im- 
til her voice mounted to a squeal. 

He placed a bit of meat, wrapped in brown paper, 
upon the table, and with a penknife cut it into shreds/ 
The milk he took from a bottle which had served for 
medicine, and poured it into the saucer on the hearth. 

The cat crouched before it, purring and lapping at 
the same time. 

He cooked his egg and ate it with a slice of bread, 
watching her busy with the shredded meat, and when 
he had finished, and had filled and emptied a cup of 
water from the bucket in the sink, he sat down, taking 
her into his lap, where she at onc^ curled up and l^e- 
gan her toilet. He began to speak again, touching 
her caressingly at times by way of emphasis. 

"Cat, I have found out where your mistress lives" 
It is not very far away; it is here, under this same 
leaky roof, but in the north wing, which I had sup- 
posed was uninhabited. My janitor tells me this. 
By chance, he is almost sober this evening. The 
butcher on the Rue de Seine, where I bought your 
meat, knows you, and old Cabane, the baker, identi- 
fied you with needless sarcasm. They tell me hard 
tales of your mistress, which I shall not believe. They 
say she is idle and vain and pleasure -loving; they 
say she is hare-brained and reckless. The Uttle sculp- 
tor on the ground -floor, who was buying rolls from 
old Cabane, spoke to me to-night for the first time, 
although we have always bowed to each other. He 
said she was very good and very beautiful. He has 
only seen her once, and does not know her name. I 
thanked him; I don't know why I thanked him so 
warmly. Cabane said, 'Into this cursed Street of 
the Four Winds, the four winds blow all things evil.' 

140 



>* 



# f 



THE STREET OF THE FOUR WINDS 

The sculptor looked confused, but when he went out 
with his rolls he said to me, ' I am sure, monsieur, that 
she is as good as she is beautiful.' '' 

The cat had finished her toilet, and now, springing 
softly to the floor, went to the door and sniffed. He 
knelt beside her, and, unclasping the garter, held it 
for a moment in his hands. After a while he said: 
" There is a name engraved upon the silver clasp be- 
neath the buckle. It is a pretty name— Sylvia Elven. 
Sylvia is a woman's name, Elven is the name of a town. 
In Paris, in this quarter, above all in this Street of the 
Four Winds, names are worn and put away as the 
fashions change with the seasons. I know the Uttle 
town of Elven, for there I met Fate face to face, and 
Fate was unkind. But do you know that in Elven 
Fate had another name, and that name was Sylvia?" 

He replaced the garter and stood up, looking down 
at the cat crouched before the closed door. 

"The name of Elven has a charm lot me. It tells 
me of meadows and clear rivers. The name of Sylvia 
troubles me like perfiune from dead flowers." 

The cat mewed. 

"Yes, yes," he said, soothingly, " I will take you 
back. Your Sylvia is not my Sylvia; the world is 
wide, and Elven is not unknown. Yet in the dark- 
ness and filth of poorer Paris, in the sad shadows of 
this ancient house, these names are very pleasant to 



me. 



He lifted her in his arms and strode through the 
silent corridors to the stairs. Down five flights and 
into the moonlit court, past the little sculptor's den, 
and then again in at the gate of the north wing and up 
the worm-eaten stairs he passed, until he came to a 
closed door. When he had stood knocking for a long 
time, something moved behind the door; it opened, 
and he went in. The room was dark. As he crossed 

141 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

the threshold the cat sprang from his arms into the 
shadows. He Ustened, but heard nothing. The si- 
lence was oppressive, and he struck a match. At his 
elbow stood a table, and on the table a candle in a gild- 
ed candlestick. This he Ughted, then looked around. 
The chamber was vast, the hangings heavy with em- 
broidery. Over the fireplace towered a carved mantel, 
gray with the ashes of dead fires. In a recess by the 
deep^set windows stood a bed, from which the bed- 
clothes, soft and fine as lace, trailed to the poUshed 
floor. He lifted the candle above his head. A hand- 
kerchief lay at his feet. It was faintly perfumed. 
He turned towards the windows. In front of them 
was a canapi, and over it were flung, pell-mell, a gown 
of silk, a heap of lacelike garments, white and deU- 
cate as spiders' meshes; long, crumpled gloves, and, 
on the floor beneath, the stockings, the little pointed 
shoes, and one garter of rosy silk, quaintly flowered 
and fitted with a silver clasp. Wondering, he stepped 
forward and drew the heavy curtains from the bed. 
For a moment the candle flared in his hand; then his 
eyes met two other eyes, wide open, smiUng, and the 
candle-flame flashed over hair heavy as gold. 

She was pale, but not as white as he; her eyes were 
untroubled as a child's; but he stared, trembhng from 
head to foot, while the candle flickered in his hand. 

At last he whispered, "Sylvia, it is I." 

Again he said, "It is I." 

Then, knowing that she was dead, he kissed her on 
the mouth. And through the long watches of the 
night the cat purred on his knee, tightening and re- 
laxing her padded claws, until the sky paled above 
the Street of the Four Winds. 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST 

SHELL 

* Be of good cheer, the sullen month will die. 
And a young moon requite us by-«nd-by: 
Look how the old one, meagre, bent, and wan 
With age and fast, is fainting from the sky." 




SYLVIA. COLETTE. AND MARIE GUERNALEC 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST 

SHELL 



THE room was already dark. The high roofs 
opposite cut off what little remained of the De- 
cember daylight. The girl drew her chair nearer the 
window and, choosing a large needle, threaded it, knot- 
ting the thread over her fingers. Then she smoothed 
the baby garment across her knees, and, bending, bit 
off the thread and drew the smaller needle from where 
it rested in the hem. When she had brushed away 
the stray threads and bits of lace, she laid it again 
over her knees caressingly. Then she slipped the 
threaded needle from her corsage and passed it through 
a button, but as the button spun down the thread her 
hand faltered, the thread snapped, and the button 
rolled across the floor. She raised her head. Her 
eyes were fixed on a strip of waning light above the 
chimneys. From somewhere in the city came sounds 
like the distant beating of drums, and beyond, far 
beyond, a vague muttering, now growing, swelling, 
rumbling in the distance like the pounding of surf 
upon the rocks, now like the surf again, receding, 
growling, menacing. The cold had become intense — 
a bitter, piercing cold, which strained and snapped at 
joist and beam, and turned the slush of yesterday to 
flint. From the street below every sound broke sharp 

'<> 145 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

and metallic — the clatter of sabots, the rattle of shutters, 
or the rare sound of a human voice. The air was 
heavy, weighted with the black cold as with a pall. 
To breathe was painful, to move an effort. 

In the desolate sky there was something that wearied, 
in the brooding clouds something that saddened. It 
penetrated the freezing city cut by the freezing river, 
the splendid city with its towers and domes, its quays 
and bridges and its thousand spires. It entered the 
squares, it seized the avenues and the palaces, stole 
across bridges and crept among the narrow streets of 
the Latin Quarter, gray under the gray of the Decem- 
ber sky. Sadness, utter sadness. A fine, icy sleet was 
falling, powdering the pavement with a tiny crystalline 
dust. It sifted against the window-panes and drifted in 
heaps along the sill. The light at the window had near- 
ly failed, and the girl bent low over her work. Presently 
she raised her head, brushing the curls from her eyes. 

Jack!" 

Dearest?" 

Don't forget to clean your palette." 
He said, ''All right," and, picking up the palette, 
sat down upon the floor in front of the stove. His 
head and shoulders were in the shadow, but the fire- 
light fell across his knees and glimmered red on the 
blade of the palette-knife. Full in the firelight beside 
him stood a color-box. On the lid was carved. 



n 
It 



J. TRENT. 

£cole des Beaux Arts. 

1870. 



This inscription was ornamented with an American 
and a French flag. 

146 



it 

n 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

The sleet blew against the window-panes, covering 
them with stars and diamonds, then, melting from 
the warmer air within, ran down and froze again in 
femlike traceries. 

A dog whined and the patter of small paws sounded 
on the zinc behind the stove. 

" Jack, dear, do you think Hercules is hungry?" 

The patter of paws was redoubled behind the stove. 

''He's whining," she continued, nervously, "and if 
it isn't because he's hungry it is because — " 

Her voice faltered. A loud humming filled the air, 
the windows vibrated. 

"Oh, Jack," she cried, "another — " But her voice 
was drowned in the scream of a shell tearing through 
the clouds overhead. 

That is the nearest yet," she murmured. 
Oh no," he answered, cheerfully; "it probably 
fell way over by Montmartre," and, as she did not 
answer, he said tigain, with exaggerated unconcern, 
"They wouldn't take the trouble to fire at the Latin 
Quarter; anyway, they haven't a battery that can 
hurt it." 

After a while she spoke up brightly: "Jack, dear, 
when are you going to take me to see Monsieur West's 
statues?" 

"I will bet," he said, throwing down his palette and 
walking over to the window beside her, "that Colette 
has been here to-day." 

"Why?" she asked, opening her eyes very wide. 
Then, "Oh, it's too bad! — ^really, men are tiresome 
when they think they know everything! And I warn 
you that if Monsieur West is vain enough to imagine 
that Colette—" 

From the north another shell came whistling and 
quavering through the sky, passing above them with 
long-drawn screech which left the windows singing. 

147 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

"That/' he blurted out, "was too near for comfort." 

They were silent for a while, then he spoke again, 
gayly: "Go on, Sylvia, and wither poor West." 

But she only sighed : " Oh, dear, I can never seem 
to get used to the shells." 

He sat down on the arm of the chair beside her. 

Her scissors fell jingling to the floor ; she tossed the 
unfinished frock after them, and, putting both arms 
about his neck, drew him down into her lap. 

"Don't go out to-night. Jack." 

He kissed her uplifted face. "You know I must; 
don't make it hard for me." 

"But when I hear the shells and — and know you 
are out in the city — " 

"But they all faU in Montmartre-" 

"They may all fall in the Beaux Arts. You said 
yourself that two struck the Quai d'Orsay — " 

" Mere accident — " 
Jack, have pity on mel Take me with you I" 
And who will tiiere be to get dinner?". 

She rose and flung herself on the bed. 

" Oh, I can't get used to it, and I know you must go, 
but I beg you not to be late to dinner. If you knew 
what I suffer! I — I — cannot help it, and you must be 
patient with me, dear." 

He said, " It is as safe there as it is in our own house. " 

She watched him fill for her the alcohol lamp, and 
when he had lighted it and had taken his hat to go 
she jumped up and clung to him in silence. After a 
moment he said, " Now, Sylvia, remember my courage 
is sustained by yours. Come, I must gol" She did 
not move, and he repeated, "I must go." Then she 
stepped back, and he thought she was going to speak 
and waited, but she only looked at him, and, a little 
impatiently, he kissed her again, saying, " Don't worry, 
dearest." 

148 



it 
it 



xuurs laiiflJ 
it 

tt 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

When he had reached the last flight of stairs on his 
way to the street a woman hobbled out of the house- 
keeper's lodge, waving a letter and calling, " Monsieur 
Jack I Monsieur Jack I This was left by Monsieur 
Fallowbyl" 

He took the letter, and, leaning on the threshold of 
the lodge, read it : 

" Dear Jack, — I believe Braith is dead-broke and Fm sure 
Fallowby is. Braith swears he isn't, and Fallowby swears he 
is, so you can draw your own conclusions. I've got a scheme 
for a dinner, and if it works I will let you fellows in. 

Yours faithfully. 

West. 

P.S. — Fallowby has shaken Hartman and his gang, thank 
the Lord ! There is something rotten there — or, it may be, he's 
only a miser. 

" P.P.S. — I'm more desperately in love than ever, but I'm sure 
she does not care a straw for me." 

"All right," said Trent, with a smile, to the con- 
cierge; ''but tell me, how is papa Cottard?" 

The old woman shook her head and pointed to the 
curtained bed in the lodge. 

"Pfere CottardI" he cried, cheerily, "how goes the 
wound to-day?" 

He walked over to the bed and drew the curtains. 
An old man was lying among the tumbled sheets. 

"Better?" smiled Trent. 

"Better," repeated the man, wearily; and, after a 
pause, "Have you any news. Monsieur Jack?" 

"I haven't been out to-day. I will bring you any 
rumor I may hear, though, goodness knows, I've got 
enough of rumors," he muttered to himself. Then 
aloud, "Cheer up; you're looking better." 

"And the sortie?" 

"Oh, the sortie, that's for this week. General Tro- 
chu sent orders last night." 

149 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

"It will be terrible," 

"It will be sickening/' thought Trent, as he went 
out into the street and turned the corner towards the 
Rue de Seine. "Slaughter — slaughter! Phew I Fm 
glad I'm not going." 

The street was almost deserted. A few women 
muffled in tattered military capes crept along the frozen 
pavement, and a wretchedly clad gamin hovered over 
the sewer-hol^ on the corner of the boulevard. A 
rope around his waist held his rags together. From 
the rope hung a rat, still warm and bleeding. 

"There's another in there/' he yelled at Trent; 
"I hit him, but he got away." 

Trent crossed the street and asked, "How much?" 

" Two francs for a quarter of a fat one; that's what 
they give at the St. Germain market." 

A violent fit of coughing interrupted him, but he 
wiped his face with the palm of his hand and looked 
cunningly at Trent. 

"Last week you could buy a rat for six francs, 
but " — and here he swore vilely — " the rats have quit 
the Rue de Seine, and they kill them now over by the 
new hospital. I'll let you have this for seven francs; 
I can sell it for ten in the Isle St. Louis/' 

"You lie," said Trent; "and let me tell you that if 
you try to swindle anybody in this quarter the people 
will make short work of you and your rats." 

He stood a moment eying the gamin, who pretended 
to snivel. Then he tossed him a franc, laughing. 
The child caught it, and, thrusting it into his mouth, 
wheeled about to the sewer-hole. For a second he 
crouched, motionless, alert, his eyes on the bars of the 
drain, then, leaping forward, he hurled a stone into the 
gutter, and Trent left him to finish a fierce, gray rat 
that writhed squealing at the mouth of the sewer. 

"Suppose Braith should come to that," he thought; 

150 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

"poor little chap"; and, hurrying, he turned in the 
dirty Passage des Beaux Arts and entered the third 
house to the left. 

"Monsieur is at home/' quavered the old concierge. 

Home? A garret absolutely bare, save for the iron 
bedstead in the corner and the iron basin and pitcher 
on the floor. 

West appeared at the door, winking with much mys- 
tery, and motioned Trent to enter. Braith, who was 
painting in bed to keep warm, looked up, laughed, 
and shook hands. 

"Any news?" 

The perfunctory question was answered as usual 
by, "Nothing but the cannon." 

Trent sat down on the bed. 

"Where on earth did you get that?" he demanded, 
pointing to the half-finished chicken nestling in a 
wash-basin. 

West grinned. 

"Are you millionaires, you two? Out with it." 

Braith, looking a little ashamed, began: "Oh, it's 
one of West's exploits," but was cut short by West, 
who said he would tell the story himself. 

"You see, before the siege, I had a letter of intro- 
duction to a ' type ' here, a fat banker, German- Ameri- 
can variety. You know the species> I see. Well, of 
course, I forgot to present the letter; but this morning, 
judging it to be a favorable opportunity, I called on 
him. 

"The villain lives in comfort — fires, my boy — fires 
in the anterooms I The Buttons finally condescends 
to carry my letter and card up, leaving me standing 
in the hall- way, which I did not hke, so I entered the 
first room I saw and nearly fainted at the sight of a 
banquet on a table by the fire. Down comes Buttons, 
very insolent. No, oh no, his master ' is not at home, 

151 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

• 

and in fact is too busy to receive letters of introduction 
just now; the siege, and many business difficulties — ' 

"I deliver a kick to Buttons, pick up this chicken 
from the table, toss my card on to the empty plate, 
and, addressing Buttons as a species of Prussian pig, 
march out with the honors of war." 

Trent shook his head. 

"I forgot to say that Hartman often dines there, 
and I draw my own conclusions," continued West. 
"Now about this chicken, half of it is for Braith and 
myself and half for Colette, but of course you will help 
me eat my part, because I'm not hungry." 

''Neither am I," began Braith, but Trent, with a 
smile at the pinched faces before him, shook his head, 
saying, "What nonsense! You know I'm never hun- 
gry!" 

West hesitated, reddened, and then, slicing ofif 

Braith's portion, but not eating any himself, said 
good-night and hurried away to No. 470 Rue Serpente, 
where lived a pretty girl named Colette, orphan after 
Sedan, and Heaven alone knew where she got the 
roses in her cheeks, for the siege came hard on the 
poor. 

"That chicken wiU delight her, but I really believe 
she's in love with West," said Trent. Then, walking 
over to the bed, " See here, old man, no dodging, you 
know — how much have you left?" 

The other hesitated, and flushed. 

"Come, old chap," insisted Trent. 

Braith drew a purse from beneath his bolster and 
handed it to his friend with a simplicity that touched 
him. 

"Seven sous," he counted; "you make me tired I 
Why on earth don't you come to me? I take it damned 
ill, Braith I How many times must I go over the same 
thing, and explain to you that, because I have money, 

152 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

it is my duty to share it, and your duty, and the duty 
of every American, to share it with me? You can't 
get a cent, the city's blockaded, and the American 
Minister has his hands full with all the German rifif- 
rafif and deuce knows whatl Why don't you act sen- 
sibly?" 

"I — ^I will, Trent, but it's an obligation that per- 
haps I can never, even in part, repay; I'm poor and — " 

" Of course you'll pay mel If I were a usurer I would 
take your talent for security. When you are rich and 
famous — " 

"Don't, Trent—" 

"All right, only no more monkey business." 

He slipped a dozen gold pieces into the purse, and, 
tucking it again under the mattress, smiled at Braith. 

"How old are you?" he demanded. 

"Sixteen." 

Trent laid his hand lightly on his friend's shoulder. 
"I'm twenty-two, and I have the rights of a grand- 
father, as far as you are concerned. You'll do as I 
say imtil you're twenty-one." 

"The siege will be over then, I hope," said Braith, 
trying to laugh, but the prayer in their hearts — " How 
long, Lord, how longl" — was answered by the swift 
scream of a shell soaring among the storm-clouds of 
that December night. 



II 

WEST, standing in the door- way of a house in 
the Rue Serpente, was speaking angrily. He 
said he didn't care whether Hartman Uked it or not; 
he was teUing him, not arguing with him. 

" You call yourself an American 1" he sneered; " Ber- 
lin and hell are full of that kind of American. You 
come loafing about Colette with your pockets stuffed 
with white bread and beef, and a bottle of wine at thir- 
ty francs, and you can't really afford to give a dollar 
to the American Ambulance and Public Assistance, 
which Braith does, and he's half starved I" 

Hartman retreated to the curbstone, but West fol- 
lowed him, his face like a thunder-cloud. "Don't 
you dare to call yourself a countryman of mine," he 
growled, ''no — nor an artist, either! Artists don't 
worm themselves into the service of the Public De- 
fence where they do nothing but feed like rats on the 
people's food! And I'll tell you now," he continued, 
dropping his voice, for Hartman had started as though 
stimg, "you might better keep away from that Al- 
satian Brasserie and the smug -faced thieves who 
haunt it. You know what they do with suspects!" 

"You lie, you hound!" screamed Hartman, and 
flung the bottle in his hand straight at West's face. 
West had him by the throat in a second, and, forcing 
him against the dead wall, shook him wickedly. 

"Now you listen to me," he muttered, through his 
clinched teeth. "You are already a suspect, and — 

154 



tt 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

I swear — ^I believe you are a paid spy! It isn't my 
business to detect such vermin, and I don't intend 
to denounce you, but luiderstand this: G)lette don't 
like you, and I can't stand you, and if I catch you in 
this street again I'll make it somewhat unpleasant. 
Get out, you sleek Prussian!" 

Hartman had managed to drag a knife from his 
pocket, but West tore it from him and hurled him into 
the gutter. A gamin who had seen this burst into 
a peal of laughter, which rattled harshly in the silent 
street. Then everywhere windows were raised, and 
rows of haggard faces appeared demanding to know 
why people should laugh in the starving city. 
Is it a victory?" murmured one. 
Look at that," cried West, as H£u*tman picked 
himself up from the pavement — "look, you miser! 
look at those faces!" But Hartman gave him a look 
which he never forgot, and walked away without a 
word. Trent, who suddenly appeared at the corner, 
glanced curiously at West, who merely nodded towards 
his door, sa3dng, "Come in; Fallowby's up-stairs." 

"What are you doing with that knife?" demanded 
Fallowby, as he and Trent entered the studio. 

West looked at his wounded hand, which still clutched 
the knife, but saying, "Cut myself by accident," tossed 
it into a comer and washed the blood from his fingers. 

Fallowby, fat and lazy, watched him without com- 
ment, but Trent, half divining how things had turned, 
walked over to Fallowby smiling. 

I've a bone to pick with you," he said. 
Where is it? I'm hungry," replied Fallowby, with 
affected eagerness, but Trent, frowning, told him to 
listen. 

"How much did I advance you a week ago?" 

"Three hundred and eighty francs," replied the 
other, with a squirm of contrition. 

155 






THE KING IN YELLOW 

"Where is it?" 

Fallowby began a series of intricate explanations, 
which were soon cut short by Trent. 

"I know; you blew it in; you always blow it in. I 
don't care a rap what you did before the siege; I know 
you are rich, and have a right to dispose of your money 
as you wish to, and I also know that, generally speak- 
ing, it is none of my business. But now it is my bus- 
iness, as I have to supply the funds until you get some 
more, which you won't until the siege is ended one 
way or another. I wish to share what I have, but I 
won't see it thrown out of the window. Oh yes, of 
course I know you will reimburse me, but that isn't 
the question; and, anyway, it's the opinion of your 
friends, old man, that you will not be worse off for a 
little abstinence from fleshly pleasures. You are pos- 
itively a freak in this famine - cursed city of skel- 
etons." 

I am rather stout," he admitted. 

Is it true you are out of money?" demanded Trent. 

Yes, I am," sighed the other. 

That roast sucking-pig on the Rue St. Honor6 — 
is it there yet?" continued Trent. 
" Wh-at?" stammered the feeble one. 
" Ah — I thought so I I caught you in ecstasy before 
that sucking-pig at least a dozen times." 

Then, laughing, he presented Fallowby with a roll 
of twenty-franc pieces, saying, "If these go for lux- 
uries, you must live on your own flesh," and went over 
to aid West, who sat beside the wash-basin binding up 
his hand. 

West suffered him to tie the knot, and then said: 
"You remember, yesterday, when I left you and Braith 
to take the chicken to Colette." 

Chicken I Good heavens I" moaned Fallowby. 

Chicken," repeated West, enjoying Fallowby's 

156 



ft 
it 
ft 
tt 



tt 

ft 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

grief; "I — ^that is, I must explain that things are 
changed. Colette and I — ^are to be married — " 

"What — ^what about the chicken?" groaned Fal- 
lowby. 

"Shut upl" laughed Trent, and, slipping his arm 
through West's, walked to the stair-way. 

"The poor Uttle thing/' said West — "just think, not 
a splinter of firewood for a week and wouldn't tell me 
because she thought I needed it for my clay figure. 
Whew I When I heard it I smashed that smirking, 
clay nymph to pieces, and the rest can freeze and be 
hanged !" After a moment he added, timidly : " Won't 
you call on your way down and say bon soir? It's 
No. 17." 

"Yes," said Trent, and he went out, softly closing 
the door behind. 

He stopped on the third landing, lighted a match, 
scanned the numbers over the row of dingy doors, 
and knocked at No. 17. 

"C'est toi, Georges?" The door opened. 

" Oh, pardon. Monsieur Jack, I thought it was Mon- 
sieur West"; then, blushing furiously: "Oh, I see you 
have heard! Oh, thank you so much for your wishes, 
and I'm sure we love each other very much — ^and I'm 
dying to see Sylvia and tell her, and — " 
And what," laughed Trent. 
I am very happy," she sighed. 
He's piu^e gold," returned Trent, and then, gayly : 

I want you and George to come and dine with us to- 
night. It's a little treat — you see to-morrow is Sylvia's 
/^. She will be nineteen. I have written to Thorn, 
and the Guemalecs will come with their cousin Odile. 
Fallowby has engaged not to bring anybody but him- 
self." 

The girl accepted shyly, charging him with loads of 
loving messages to Sylvia, and he said good-night. 

157 



it 

t€ 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

He started up the street, walking swiftly, for it was 
bitter cold, and, cutting across the Rue de la Lune, he 
entered the Rue de Seine. The early winter night 
had fallen, almost without warning; but the sky was 
clear, and myriads of stars glittered in the heavens. 
The bombardment had become furious — a steady 
rolling thimder from the Prussian cannon punctuated 
by the heavy shocks from Mont Val6rien. 

The shells streamed across the sky, leaving trails 
Uke shooting-stars, and now, as he turned to look back, 
rockets blue and red flared above the horizon from the 
Fort of Issy, and the Fortress of the North flamed 
like a bonfire. 

"Good news!" a man shouted over by the Boule- 
vard St. Germain. As if by magic the streets were 
filled with people — shivering, chattering people with 
shrunken eyes. 

Jacques I" cried one, "the Army of the Loire!" 
Eh ! Mon vieux, it has come, then, at last I I told 
thee! I told thee! To-morrow — to-morrow — who 
knows?" 

"Is it true? Is it a sortie?" 

Some one said: "O God — a sortie — ^and my son?" 
Another cried : " To the Sdne? They say one can see 
the signals of the Army of the Loire from the Pont Neuf . " 

There was a child standing near Trent who kept 
repeating: "Mamma, mamma, then to-morrow we 
may eat white bread?" And beside him an old man, 
swaying, stumbling, his shrivelled hands crushed to 
his breast, muttering as if insane. 

"Could it be true? Who has heard the news? The 
shoemaker on the Rue de Buci had it from a Mobile 
who had heard a f ranc-tireur repeat it to a captain of 
the National Guard." 

Trent followed the throng surging through the Rue 
de Seine to the river. 

158 



ft 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

Rocket after rocket clove the sky, and now, ironx 
Montmartre, the cannon clanged, and the batteries 
on Montpamasse joined in with a crash. The bridge 
was packed with people. 

Trent asked: "\^o has seen the signals of the 
Army of the Loire?" 

''We are waiting," was the reply. 

He looked towards the north. Suddenly the huge 
silhouette of the Arc de Triomphe sprang into black 
relief against the flash of a cannon. The boom of the 
gim rolled along the quay and the old bridge vibrated. 

Again over by the Point du Jour a flash and heavy 
explosion shook the bridge, and then the whole eastern 
bastion of the fortifications blazed and crackled, send- 
ing a red flame into the sky. 

"Has any one seen the signals yet?" he asked, 
again. 

''We are waiting," was the reply. 

"Yes, waiting," murmured a man behind him — 
"waiting — ^sick, starved, freezing, but waiting. Is it 
a sortie? They go gladly. Is it to starve? They 
starve. They have no time to think of surrender. 
Are they heroes— these Parisians? Answer me, 
TrentI" 

The American ambulance surgeon turned about 
and scanned the parapets of the bridge. 

Any news, doctor?" asked Trent, mechanically. 
News?" said the doctor; "I don't know any — ^I 
haven't time to know any. What are these people 
after?" 

" They say that the Army of the Loire has signalled 
Mont Valfirien." 

"Poor devils 1" The doctor glanced about him for 
an instant, and then: "I'm so harried and worried 
that I don't know what to do. After the last sortie we 
had the work of fifty ambulances on our poor little 

159 



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THE KING IN YELLOW. 

corps. To-morrow there's another sortie, and I wish 
you fellows could come over to headquarters. We 
may need volunteers. How is madame?" he added, 
abruptly. 

"Well/* replied Trent; "but she seems to grow 
more nervous every day. I ought to be with her now." 

"Take care of her/' said the doctor; then, with a 
sharp look at the people: "I can't stop now — good- 
night!" and he hurried away, muttering, " Poor devils I" 

Trent leaned over the parapet and blinked at the 
black river surging through the arches. Dark objects, 
carried swiftly on the breast of the current, struck 
with a grinding, tearing noise against the stone piers, 
spun around for an instant, and hurried away into 
the darkness. The ice from the Mame. 

As he stood staring into the water a hand was laid 
on his shoulder. "Hello, SouthwarkI" he cried, turn- 
ing around; "this is a queer place for you!" 

"Trent, I have something to tell you. Don't stay 
here — don't believe in the Army of the Loire"; and 
the attache of the American Legation slipped his arm 
through Trent's and drew him towards the Louvre. 

"Then it's another lie!" said Trent, bitterly. 

"Worse — we know at the Legation — ^I can't speak 
of it. But that's not what I have to say. Something 
happened this afternoon. The Alsatian Brasserie was 
visited and an American named Hartman has been 
arrested. Do you know him?" 

I know a German who calls himself an American ; 
his name is Hartman. 

Well, he was arrested about two hours ago. They 
mean to shoot him. 



"i Know a vjerman 

name is nanman." 
" weu, ne was an 
xjt mm." 

"What!" 

"Of course we at the Legation can't allow them to 



shoot him ofif-hand; but the evidence seems conclu- 

i6o 



sive. 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 



"Is he a spy r 

"Well, the papers seized in his rooms are pretty 
damning proofs, and, besides, he was caught, they say, 
swindling the Public Food Committee. He drew rations 
for fifty — how, I don't know. He claims to be an Ameri- 
can artist here, and we have been obliged to take notice 
of it at the Legation. It's a nasty affair." 

"To cheat the people at such a time is worse than 
robbing the poor-box/' cried Trent, angrily. "Let 
them shoot him!" 

"He's an American citizen." 

"Yes, oh yes," said the other, with bitterness. 
"American citizenship is a precious privilege when 
every goggle-eyed German — " His anger choked him. 

Southwark shook hands with him warmly. "It 
can't be helped, we must own the carrion. I am afraid 
you may be called upon to identify him as an American 
artist," he said, with a ghost of a smile on his deep- 
lined face, and walked away through the Cours de la 
Reine. 

Trent swore silently for a moment, and then drew 
out his watch. Seven o'clock. "Sylvia will be anx- 
ious," he thought, and hurried back to the river. The 
crowd still huddled shivering on the bridge, a sombre, 
pitiful congregation, peering out into the night for the 
signals of the Army of the Loire; and their hearts beat 
time to the pounding of the guns, their eyes Ughted 
with each flash from the bastions, and hope rose with 
the drifting rockets. 

A black cloud hung over the fortifications. From 
horizon to horizon the cannon smoke stretched in 
wavering bands, now capping the spires and domes 
with cloud, now blowing in streamers and shreds along 
the streets, now descending from the house-tops, en- 
veloping quays, bridges, and river in a sulphurous 
mist. And through the smoke pall the lightning of 
" i6i 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

the cannon played, while from time to time a rift 
above show^ a fathomless black vault set with 
stars. 

He turned again into the Rue de Seine, that sad, 
abandoned street, with its rows of closed shutters and 
desolate ranks of unlighted lamps. He was a little 
nervous, and wished once or twice for a revolver, but 
the sUnking forms which passed him in the darkness 
were too weak with hunger to be dangerous, he thought, 
and he passed on unmolested to his door-way. But 
there somebody sprang at his throat. Over and over 
the icy pavement he rolled with his assailant, tearing 
at the noose about his neck, and then with a wrench 
sprang to his feet. 

"Get up,'' he cried to the other. 

Slowly and with great deliberation a small gamin 
picked himself out of the gutter and surveyed Trent 
with disgust. 

"That's a nice, clean trick," said Trent; "a whelp 
of your age! You'll finish against a dead wall. Give 
me that cord." 

The urchin handed him the noose without a word. 

Trent struck a match and looked at his assailant. 
It was the rat-killer of the day before. 
H'ml I thought so," he muttered. 
Tiens, c'est toi?" said the gamin, tranquilly. 

The impudence, the overpowering audacity, of the 
ragamuffin took Trent's breath away. 

Do you know, you young strangler," he gasped, 
that they shoot thieves of your age?" 

The child turned a passionless face to Trent. 
Shoot, then." 

That was too much, and he turned on his heel and 
entered his hotel. 

Groping up the unlighted stair- way, he at last reached 
his own landing and felt about in the darkness for the 

162 



it 
It 



it 
it 

(t 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

door. From his studio came the sound of voices — 
West's hearty laugh and Fallowby's chuckle — and at 
last he found the knob, and^ pushing back the door, 
stood a moment confused by the light. 

"Hello, Jack I" cried West, ''you're a pleasant creat- 
ure, inviting people to dine and letting them wait. 
Here's Fallowby weeping with hunger — " 

"Shut up," observed the latter; "perhaps he's been 
out to buy a turkey." 

"He's been out garroting; look at his noose I" 
laughed Guemalec. 

"So now we know where you get your cash I" added 
West ; " vive le coup du Pfere Franjois I" 

Trent shook hands with everybody and laughed at 
Sylvia's pale face. 

" I didn't mean to be late ; I stopped on the bridge a 
moment to watch the bombardment. Were you anx- 
ious, Sylvia?" 

She smiled and murmured, "Oh no!" but her hand 
dropped into his and tightened convulsively. 

"To the table 1" shouted Fallowby, and uttered a 
joyous whoop. 

"Take it easy," observed Thorne, with a remnant 
of manners; ''you are not the host, you know." 

Marie Guernalec, who had been chattering with Co- 
lette, jumped up and took Thome's arm, and Mon- 
sieur Guemalec drew Odile's arm through his. 

Trent, bowing gravely, offered his own arm to Co- 
lette, West took in Sylvia, and Fallowby hovered anx- 
iously in the rear. 

"You march around the table three times singing 
the Marseillaise," explained Sylvia, "and Monsieur 
Fallowby pounds on the table and beats time." 

Fallowby suggested that they could sing after din- 
ner, but his protest was drowned in the ringing 
chorus : 

163 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

" Aux armesl 
Formez vos bataillonsj" 

Around the room they marched, singing, 

" Marchonsi Marchons I" 

with all their might, while Fallowby, with very bad 
grace, hammered on the table, consoling himself a 
httle with the hope that the exercise would increase 
his appetite. Hercules, the black-and-tan, fled under 
the bed, from which retreat he yapped and whined 
until dragged out by Guernalec and placed in Odile's 
lap. 

"And now," said Trent, gravely, when everybody 
was seated, "listen!" and he read the menu: 

" ' Beef Soup k la Si^ge de Paris. 

Fish. 

Sardines k la P^re Lachaise. 

(White Wine.) 



Rdti. 

(Red Wine.) 

Fresh Beef k la Sortie. 



Vegetables. 

Canned Beans k la Chassepot, 

Canned Peas Gravelotte, 

Potatoes Irlandaises, 

Miscellaneous. 



Cold Corned Beef k la Thiers, 
Stewed Prunes k la Garibaldi. 



Dessert. 

Dried Prunes — White Bread, 

Currant Jelly, 

Tea— Caf^, 

Liqueurs, 

Pipes and Cigarettes.' 

164 



f» 



tt 
tt 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

Fallowby applauded frantically, and Sylvia served 
the soup. 

"Isn't it delicious?" sighed Odile. 

Marie Guernalec sipped her soup in rapture. 

"Not at all like horse, and, I don't care what they 
say, horse doesn't taste like beef," whispered Colette 
to West. Fallowby, who had finished, began to ca- 
ress his chin and eye the tureen. 

Have some more, old chap?" inquired Trent. 
Monsieur Fallowby cannot have any more," an- 
nounced Sylvia; "I am saving this for the concierge." 
Fallowby transferred his eyes to the fish. 

The sardines, hot from the grille, were a great suc- 
cess. While the others were eating, Sylvia ran down- 
stairs with the soup for the old concierge and her 
husband, and when she hurried back, flushed and 
breathless, and had shpped into her chair with a hap- 
py smile at Trent, that young man arose, and silence 
fell over the table. For an instant he looked at Syl- 
via, and thought he had never seen her so beautiful. 

" You all know," he began, " that to-day is my wife's 
nineteenth birthday — " 

Fallowby, bubbling with enthusiasm, waved his 
glass in circles about his head, to the terror of Odile 
and Q)lette, his neighbors, and Thorne, West, and 
Guernalec refilled their glasses three times before the 
storm of applause, which the toast of Sylvia had pro- 
voked, subsided. 

Three times the glasses were filled and emptied to 
Sylvia, and again to Trent, who protested. 

"This is irregular," he cried; "the next toast is to 
the twin Republics — ^France and America." 

"To the Republics I To the Republics I" they cried, 
and the toast was drunk amid shouts of " Vive la 
France!" "Vive I'Amfiriquel" "Vive la Nation!" 

Then Trent, with a smile at West, offered the toast, 

165 



44 
4t 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

"To a Happy Pair!" and everybody understood, and 
Sylvia leaned over and kissed Colette, while Trent 
bowed to West. 

The beef was eaten in comparative calm, but when 
it was finished, and a portion of it set aside for the 
old people below, Trent cried : " Drink to Paris ! May 
she rise from her ruins and crush the invader!'' and 
the cheers rang out, drowning for a moment the mo- 
notonous thunder of the Prussian guns. 

Pipes and cigarettes were Ughted, and Trent lis- 
tened an instant to the animated chatter around him, 
broken by ripples of laughter from the girls or the 
mellow chuckle of Fallowby. Then he turned to West. 
There is going to be a sortie to-night," he said. 
I saw the American ambulance surgeon just before 
I came in and he asked me to speak to you fellows. 
Any aid we can give him will not come amiss." 

Then, dropping his voice and speaking in English : 
"As for me, I shall go out with the ambulance to- 
morrow morning. There is, of course, no danger, 
but it's just as well to keep it from Sylvia. " 

West nodded. Thorne and Guernalec, who had 
heard, broke in and offered assistance, and Fallowby 
volunteered with a groan. 

"All right," said Trent, rapidly, "no more now, 
but meet me at Ambulance Headquarters to-morrow 
morning at eight." 

Sylvia and Colette, who were becoming uneasy at 
the conversation in English, now dem£uided to know 
what they were talking aboui 

"What does a sculptor usually talk about?" cried 
West, with a laugh. 

Odile glanced reproachfully at Thorne, her fiance. 

"You are not French, you know, and it is none of 
your business, this war," said Odile, with much dig- 
nity. 

i66 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

Thorne looked meek, but West assumed an air of 
outraged virtue. 

" It seems/' he said to Fallowby, " that a fel- 
low camiot discuss the beauties of Greek sculpture 
in his mother tongue without being openly sus- 
pected." 

G)lette placed her hand over his mouth, and, turn- 
ing to Sylvia, murmured, "They are horridly un- 
truthful, these men." 

"I beUeve the word for ambulance is the same in 
both languages," said Marie Guemalec, saucily; 
"Sylvia, don't trust Monsieur Trent." 

"Jack," whispered Sylvia, "promise me — " 

A knock at the studio door interrupted her. 

"Come in!" cried Fallowby, but Trent sprang up 
and, opening the door, looked out. Then, with a hasty 
excuse to the rest, he stepped into the hall-way and 
closed the door. 

When he returned he was grumbling. 
What is it. Jack?" cried West. 
What is it?" repeated Trent, savagely; "I'll tell 
you what it is. I have received a despatch from the 
American Minister to go at once and identify and 
claim, as a fellow-countryman and a brother artist, 
a rascally thief and a German spy!" 

"Don't go," suggested Fallowby. 

"HI don't, they'll shoot him at once. " 

"Let them," growled Thorne. 

"Do you fellows know who it is?" 

"Hartmanl" shouted West, inspired. 

Sylvia sprang up deathly white, but Odile slipped 
her arm around her and supported her to a chair, say- 
ing, cahnly, " Sylvia has fainted — ^it's the hot room-* 
bring some water." 

Trent brought it at once. 

Sylvia opened her eyes, and after a moment rose, 

167 



tt 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

and, supported by Marie Guernalec and Trent, passed 
into the bedroom. 

It was the signal for bresdcing-up, and everybody 
came and shook hands with Trent, saying they hoped 
Sylvia would sleep it oflf, and that it would be noth- 
ing. 

When Marie Guernalec took leave of him, she avoid- 
ed his eyes, but he spoke to her cordially and thanked 
her for her aid. 

" Anything I can do. Jack?" inquired West, linger- 
ing, and then hurried down-stairs to catch up with the 
rest. 

Trent leaned over the banisters, listening to their 
footsteps and chatter, and then the lower door banged 
and the house was silent. He lingered, staring down 
into the blackness, biting his lips; then, with an im- 
patient movement, "I am crazy!" he muttered, and, 
lighting a candle, went into the bedroom. Sylvia 
was lying on the bed. He bent over her, smoothing 
the curly hair on her forehead. 

"Are you better, dear Sylvia?" 

She did not answer, but raised her eyes to his. For 
an instant he met her gaze, but what he read there sent 
a chill to his heart, and he sat down, covering his face 
with his hands. 

At last she spoke in a voice changed and strained, 
a voice which he had never heard, and he dropped his 
hands and listened, bolt upright in his chair. 

"Jack, it has come at last. I have feared it and 
trembled — ah I how often have I lain awake at night 
with this on my heart and prayed that I might die 
before you should ever know of it I For I love you. 
Jack, and if you go away I cannot live. I have de- 
ceived you; it happened before I knew you, but since 
that first day, when you found me weeping in the 
Luxembourg and spoke to me. Jack, I have been faith- 

i68 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

ful to you in every thought and deed. I loved you 
from the first, and did not dare to tell you this, fear- 
ing that you would go away; and since then my love 
has grown — grown — and, oh! I suffered I but I dared 
not tell you. And now you know, but you do not 
know the worst. For him — now — what do I care? 
He was cruel — oh, so cruel!" 

She hid her face in her arms. 

"Must I go on? Must I tell you — can you not 
imagine, oh. Jack ! — *' 

He did not stir ; his eyes seemed dead. 

"\ — ^I was so young, I knew nothing, and he said 
— ^said that he loved me — I must finish ! When you 
told me you loved me — you — you asked me nothing; 
but then, even then, it was too late, and that other 
life which binds me to him must stand forever be- 
tween you and me! For there is another whom he has 
claimed, and is good to. He must not die — they can- 
not shoot him, for that other's sake!" 

Trent sat motionless, but his thoughts ran on in an 
interminable whirl. 

Sylvia, little Sylvia, who shared with him his stu- 
dent life — who bore with him the dreary desolation 
of the siege without complaint — this slender, blue- 
eyed girl, whom he was so quietly fond of, whom he 
teased or caressed as the whim suited, who sometimes 
made him the least bit impatient with her passionate 
devotion to him — could this be the same Sylvia who 
lay weeping there in the darkness?" 

Then he clinched his teeth. "Let him die! Let 
him die!" — but then, for Sylvia's sake, and for that 
other's sake? Yes, he would go — ^he must go — ^his duty 
was plain before him. But Sylvia, he could not be 
what he had been to her, and yet a vague terror 
seized him, now all was said. Trembling, he struck 
a light 

i6q 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

She lay there, her curly hair tumbled about her 
face, her small, white hands pressed to her breast 

He could not leave her, and he could not stay. He 
never knew before that he loved her. She had been 
a mere comrade, this girl- wife of his. Ah I he loved 
her now with all his heart and soul, and he knew it, 
only when it was too late. Too late? Why? Then 
he thought of the other one, binding her, linking her 
forever to the creature who stood in danger of his life. 
With an oath he sprang to the door, but the door would 
not open — or was it that he pressed it back — blocked 
it, and flung himself on his knees beside the bed, 
knowing that he dared not for his life's sake leave 
what was his all in life. 



m 

IT was four in the morning when he came out of the 
Prison of the Condemned with the Secretary of 
the American Legation. A knot of people had gath- 
ered around the American Minister's carriage, which 
stood in front of the prison, the horses stamping and 
pawing in the icy street, the coachman huddled on 
the box, wrapped in furs. Southwark helped the 
Secretary into the carriage and shook hands with 
Trent, thanking him for coming. 

"How the scoundrel did stare I" he said. "Your 
evidence was worse than a kick, but it saved his skin 
for the moment, at least, and prevented complications." 
The Secretary sighed. "We have done our part. 
Now let them prove him a spy, and we wash our hands 
of him. Jump in. Captain I Come along, Trent I" 

" I have a word to say to Captain Southwark; I won't 
detain him," said Trent, hastily, and, dropping his 
voice, "Southwark, help me now. You Imow the 
story from the blackguard. You know the — the child 
is at his rooms. Get it, and take it to my own apart- 
ment, and if he is shot I will provide a home for it." 
I understand," said the Captain, gravely 
Will you do this at once?" 
At once," he repUed. 
Their hands met in a warm clasp, and then Captain 
Southwark climbed into the carriage, motioning Trent 
to follow; but he shook his head, saying "Good-bye," 
and the carriage rolled away. 

171 



a 
it 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

He watched the carriage to the end of the street, 
then started towards his own quarter, but, after a step 
or two, hesitated, stopped, and finally turned away 
in the opposite direction. Something — perhaps it 
was the sight of the prisoner he had so recently con- 
fronted — nauseated him. He felt the need of solitude 
and quiet to collect his thoughts. The events of the 
evening had shaken him terribly, but he would walk 
it oflf, forget, bury everything, and then go back to 
Sylvia. He started on swiftly, and for a time the 
bitter thoughts seemed to fade, but when he paused 
at last, breathless, under the Arc de Triomphe, the 
bitterness and the wretchedness of the whole thing — 
yes, of his whole misspent life — came back with a pang. 
Then the face of the prisoner, stamped with the horrible 
grimace of fear, grew in the shadows before his eyes. 

Sick at heart, he wandered up and down under the 
great Arc, striving to occupy his mind, peering up at 
the sculptured cornices to read the names of the heroes 
and battles which he knew were engraved there, but 
always the ashen face of Hartman followed him, grin- 
ning with terror — or was it terror? — was it not triumph? 
At the thought he leaped like a man who feels a knife 
at his throat, but, after a savage tramp around the 
square, came back again and sat down to battle with 
his misery. 

The air was cold, but his cheeks were burning with 
angry shame. Shame? Why? Was it because he 
had married a girl whom chance had made a mother? 
Did he love her? Was this miserable bohemian ex- 
istence, then, his end and aim in life? He turned his 
eyes upon the secrets of his heart, and read an evil 
story — the story of the past, and he covered his face 
for shame; while, keeping time to the dull pain throb- 
bing in his head, his heart beat out the story for the 
future. Shame and disgrace. 

172 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

Roused at last from a lethargy which had begun 
to numb the bitterness of his thoughts, he raised his 
head and looked about. A sudden fog had settled in 
the streets; the arches of the Arc were choked with it. 
He would go home. A great horror of being alone 
seized him. But he. uxls not alone. The fog was peo- 
pled with phantoms. All around him in the mist they 
moved, drifting through the arches in lengthening 
lines, and vanished, while from the fog others rose 
up, swept past, and were engulfed. He was not alone, 
for even at his side they crowded, touched him, swarmed 
before him, beside him, behind him, pressed him back, 
seized and bore him with them through the mist. 
Down a dim avenue, through lanes and alleys white 
with fog, they moved, and if they spoke their voices 
were dull as the vapor which shrouded them. At last, 
in front, a bank of masonry and earth cut by a massive, 
iron-barred gate towered up in the fog. Slowly and 
more slowly they glided, shoulder to shoulder and 
thigh to thigh. Then all movement ceased. A sud- 
den breeze stirred the fog. It wavered and eddied. 
Objects became more distinct. A pallor crept above 
the horizon, touching the edges of the watery clouds, 
and drew dull sparks from a thousand bayonets. Bay- 
onets — they were everywhere, cleaving the fog or flow- 
ing beneath it in rivers of steel. High on the wall of 
masonry and earth a great gun loomed, and around 
it figures moved in silhouettes. Below, a broad tor- 
rent of bayonets swept through the iron-barred gate- 
way, out into the shadowy plain. It became lighter. 
Faces grew more distinct among the marching masses, 
and he recognized one. 

"You, Philippel" 

The figure turned its head. 

Trent cried, "Is there room for me?" but the other 
only waved his arm in a vague adieu, and was gone 

173 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

with the rest Presently the cavahy began to pass, 
squadron on squadron, crowding out into darkness; 
then many cannon, then an ambulance, then again 
the endless lines of bayonets. Beside him a cuirassier 
sat on his steaming horse, and in front, among a group 
of mounted officers he saw a general, with the Astrakhan 
collar of his dolman turned up about his bloodless face. 

Some women were weeping near him, and one was 
struggUng to force a losif of black bread into a soldier's 
haversack. The soldier tried to aid her, but the sack 
was fastened, and his rifle bothered him, so Trent held 
it while the woman unbuttoned the sack and forced 
in the bread, now all wet with her tears. The rifle 
was not heavy. Trent found it wonderfully manage- 
able. Was the bayonet sharp? He tried it. Then 
a sudden longing, a fierce, imperative desire took pos- 
session of him. 

"Chouettel" cried the gamin, clinging to the barred 
gate; "encore toi, mon vieux?" 

Trent looked up, and the rat-killer laughed in his 
face. But when the soldier had taken the rifle again, 
and, thanking him, ran hard to catch his battalion, he 
plunged into the throng about the gate-way. 

"Are you going?" he cried to a marine who sat in 
the gutter bandaging his foot. 

"Yes." 

Then a girl — a mere child — caught him by the hand 
and led him into the caf6 which faced the gate. The 
room was crowded with soldiers, some, white and 
silent, sitting on the floor, others groaning on the 
leather-covered settees. The air was sour and suffo- 
cating. 

Choose!" said the girl, with a little gesture of pity; 

they can't go!" 

In a heap of clothing on the floor he found a capote 
and k6pi. 

174 






THE STREET OP THE FIRST SHELL 

She helped him buckle his knapsack, cartridge- 
box, and belt, and showed him how to load the chasse- 
pot rifle, holding it on her knees. 
When he thanked her she started to her feet. 
You are a foreigner?'* 

American," he said, moving towards the door, but 
the child barred his way. 

" I am a Bretonne. My father is up there with the 
cannon of the marine. He will shoot you if you are a 

spy." 

They faced each other for a moment. Then, sigh- 
ing, he bent over and kissed the child. "Pray for 
Prance, Uttle one," he murmured, and she repeated, 
with a pale smile, "Por Prance and you, beau mon- 



n 
it 



sieur." 



He ran across the street and through the gate- way. 
Once outside, he edged into line and shouldered his 
way along the road. A corporal passed, looked at 
him, repassed, and finally called an officer. "You 
belong to the 6oth," growled the corporal, looking at 
the number on his k6pi." 

" We have no use for f rancs-tireurs," added the officer, 
catching sight of his black trousers." 

"I wish to volunteer in place of a comrade," said 
Trent, and the officer shrugged his shoulders and 
passed on. 

Nobody paid much attention to him, one or two 
merely glancing at his trousers. The road was deep 
with slush and mud ploughed and torn by wheels 
and hoofs. A soldier in front of him wrenched his 
foot in an icy rut and dragged himself to the edge of 
the embankment groaning. The plain on either side 
of them was gray with melting snow. Here and there 
behind dismantled hedge-rows stood wagons, bearing 
white flags with red crosses. Sometimes the driver 
was a priest iii rusty hat and gown, sometimes a crip- 

175 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

pled Mobile. Once they passed a wagon driven by a 
Sister of Qiarity. Silent, empty houses, with great 
rents in their walls, and every window blank, huddled 
along the road. Farther on, within the zone of danger, 
nothing of human habitation remained except here 
and there a pile of frozen bricks or a blackened cellar 
choked with snow. 

For some time Trent had been annoyed by the man 
behind him, who kept treading on his heels. Con- 
vinced at last that it was intentional, he turned to re- 
monstrate and found himself face to face with a fellow- 
student from the Beaux Arts. Trent stared. 

"I thought you were in the hospital!" 

The other shook his head, pointing to his bandaged 
jaw. 

"I see — you can't speak. Can I do anything?" 

The wounded man rummaged in his haversack and 
produced a crust of black bread. 

" He can't eat it, his jaw is smashed, and he wants 
you to chew it for him," said the soldier next to him. 

Trent took the crust, and, grinding it in his teeth 
morsel by morsel, passed it back to the starving man. 

From time to time mounted orderlies sped to the 
front, covering them with slush. It was a chilly, 
silent march through sodden meadows, wreathed in 
fog. Along the railroad embankment, across the 
ditch, another column moved parallel to their own. 
Trent watched it, a sombre mass, now distinct, now 
vague, now blotted out in a puff of fog. Once, for 
half an hour, he lost it, but when again it came into 
view he noticed a thin line detach itself from the flank, 
and, bellying in the middle, swing rapidly to the west. 
At the same moment a prolonged crackling broke 
out in the fog in front. Other lines began to slough 
off from the colimin, swinging east and west, and the 
crackling became continuous. A battery passed at 

176 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

full gallop, and he drew back with his comrades to give 
it way. It went into action a little to the right of his 
battalion, and, as the shot from the first rifled piece 
boomed through the mist, the cannon from the forti- 
fications opened with a mighty roar. An officer gal- 
loped by shouting something which Trent did not 
catch, but he saw the ranks in front suddenly part 
company with his own and disappear in the twilight. 
More officers rode up, and stood beside him peering 
into the fog. Away in front the crackhng had be- 
come one prolonged crash. It was dreary waiting. 
Trent chewed some bread for the man behind, who 
tried to swallow it, and, after a while, shook his head, 
motioning Trent to eat the rest himself. A corporal 
offered him a Uttle brandy, and he drank it, but when 
he turned around to return the flask the corporal was 
lying on the ground. Alarmed, he looked at the sol- 
dier next to him, who shrugged his shoulders and 
opened his mouth to speak, but something struck him, 
and he rolled over and over into the ditch below. At 
that moment the horse of one of the officers gave a 
bound, and backed into the battalion, lashing out 
with his heels. One man was ridden down; another 
was kicked in the chest and hurled through the ranks. 
The officer sank his spurs into the horse, and forced 
him to the front again, where he stood trembling. 
The cannonade seemed to draw hearer. A staff of- 
ficer, riding slowly up and down the battaUon, sud- 
denly collapsed in his saddle and clung to his horse^s 
mane. One of his boots dangled, crimsoned and drip- 
ping, from the stirrup. Then, out of the mist in front, 
men came running. The roads, the fields, the ditches, 
were full of them, and many of them fell. For an 
instant he imagined he saw horsemen riding about 
like ghosts in the vapors beyond, and a man behind 

him cursed horribly, declaring he, too, had seen them^ 
sa 177 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

and that they were Uhlans; but the battalion stood 
inactive, and the mist fell again over the meadows. 

The Colonel sat heavily upon his horse, his bullet- 
shaped head buried in the Astrakhan collar of his dol- 
man, his fat legs sticking straight out in the stirrups. 

The buglers clustered about him, with bugles poised, 
and behind him a staff officer, in a pale-blue jacket, 
smoked a cigarette and chatted with a captain of Hus- 
sars. From the road in front came the sound of furi- 
ous galloping, and an orderly reined up beside the 
Colonel, who motioned him to the rear without turning 
his head. Then on the left a confused murmur arose 
which ended in a shout A Hussar passed like the 
wind, followed by another and another, and then 
squadron after squadron whirled by them into the 
sheeted mists. At that instant the Colonel reared in 
his saddle, the bugles clanged, and the whole bat- 
talion scrambled down the embankment, over the 
ditch, and started across the soggy meadow. Al- 
most at once Trent lost his cap. Something snatched 
it from his head — ^he thought it was a tree branch. A 
good many of his comrades rolled over in the slush 
and ice, and he imagined that they had slipped. One 
pitched right across his path, and he stopped to help 
him up, but the man screamed when he touched him, 
and an officer shouted, "Forward I forward!" So he 
ran on again. It was a long jog through the mist, 
and he was often obliged to shift his rifle. When at 
last they lay panting behind the railroad embank- 
ment, he looked about him. He had felt the need 
of action, of a desperate physical struggle, of killing 
and crushing. He had been seized with a desire to 
fling himself among masses and tear right and 
left. He longed to fire, to use the thin, sharp bayonet 
on his chassepot. He had not expected this. He 
wished to become exhausted, to struggle and cut un- 

178 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

til incapable of lifting his arm. Then he had intended 
to go home. He heard a man say that half the bat- 
talion had gone down in the chetrge, and he saw an- 
other examining a corpse under the embankment. 
The body, still warm, was clothed in a strange uniform, 
but, even when he noticed the spiked helmet lying a 
few inches farther away, he did not realize what had 
happened. 

The Colonel sat on his horse a few feet to the left, 
his eyes sparkling under the crimson k6pi. Trent 
heard him reply to an officer : " I can hold it, but an- 
other charge and I won't have enough men left to sound 
a bugle." 

"Were the Prussians here?" Trent asked of a sol- 
dier who sat wiping the blood trickling from his 
hair. 

" Yes. The Hussars cleaned them out. We caught 
their cross-fire." 

"We are supporting a battery on the embankment," 
said another. 

Then the battalion crawled over the embankment 
and moved along the lines of twisted rails. Trent 
rolled up his trousers and tucked them into his woollen 
socks, but they halted again, and some of the men 
sat down on the dismantled railroad track. Trent 
looked for his wounded comrade from the Beaux Arts. 
He was standing in his place, very pale. The can- 
nonade had become terrific. For a moment the mist 
lifted. He caught a glimpse of the first battalion mo- 
tionless on the railroad track in front, of regiments 
on either flank, and then, as the fog settled again, 
the drums beat and the music of the bugles began 
away on the extreme left. A restless movement passed 
among the troops, the Colonel threw up his arm, the 
drums rolled, and the battalion movai oflf through 
the fog. They were near the front now, for the first 

179 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

battalion was firing as it advanced. Ambulances 
galloped along the base of the embankment to the 
rear, and the Hussars passed and repassed like phan- 
toms. They were in the front at last, for all about 
them was movement and turmoil, while from the fog, 
close at hand, came cries and groans and crashing 
volleys. Shells fell everywhere, bursting along the 
embankment, splashing them with frozen slush, Trent 
was frightened. He began to dread the unknown, 
which lay there crackling and flaming in obscurity. 
The shock of the cannon sickened him. He could 
even see the fog Ught up with a dull orange as the 
thunder shook the earth. It was near, he felt certain, 
for the Colonel shouted "Forward I" and the first bat- 
talion was hastening into it. He felt its breath, he 
trembled, but hurried on. A fearful discharge in front 
terrified him. Somewhere in the fog men were cheer- 
ing, and the Colonel's horse, streaming with blood, 
plunged about in the smoke. 

Another blast and shock, right in his face, almost 
stunned him, and he faltered. All the men to the right 
were down. His head swam; the fog and smoke stu- 
pefied him. He put out his hand for a support, and 
caught something. It was the wheel of a gun car- 
riage, and a man sprang from behind it, aiming a 
blow at his head with a rammer, but stimibled back 
shrieking, with a bayonet through his neck, and Trent 
knew that he had killed. Mechanically he stooped 
to pick up his rifle, but the bayonet was still in the 
man who lay beating with red hands against the 
sod. It sickened him, and he leaned on the cannon. 
Men were fighting aU around him now, and the air was 
foul with smoke and sweat. Somebody seized him 
from behind, and another in front, but others in turn 
seized them or struck them solid blows. The click! 
click! click! of bayonets infuriated him, and he grasped 

i8o 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

the rammer and struck out blindly until it was shivered 
to pieces. 

A man threw his arm around his neck and bore 
him to the ground^ but he throttled him and raised 
himself on his knees. He saw a comrade seize the 
cannon and fall across it with his skull crushed in; 
he saw the Colonel tumble clean out of his saddle into 
the mud ; then consciousness fled. 

When he came to himself he was lying on the em- 
bankment among the twisted rails. On every side hud- 
dled men who cried out and cursed and fled away 
into the fog, and he staggered to his feet and followed 
them. Once he stopped to help a comrade with a band- 
aged jaw, who could not speak, but clung to his arm 
for a time, and then fell dead in the freezing mire; and 
again he aided another, who groaned, '' Trent, c'est 
moi — ^Philippe,'' until a sudden volley in the mist re- 
lieved him of his charge. 

An icy wind swept down from the heights, cutting 
the fog into shreds. For an instant, with an evil leer, 
the sun peered through the naked woods of Vincennes, 
sank like a blood -clot in the battery smoke, lower, 
lower, into the blood-soaked plain. 



IV 

WHEN midnight sounded from the belfry of St. 
Siilpice, the gates of Paris were still choked 
with fragments of what had once been an army. 

They entered with the night, a sullen horde, spat- 
tered with slime, faint with hunger and exhaustion. 
There was little disorder at first, and the throng at the 
gates parted silently as the troops tramped along the 
freezing streets. Confusion came as the hours passed. 
Swiftly, and more swiftly, crowding squadron after 
squachon and battery on battery, horses plunging 
and caissons jolting, the remnants from the front 
surged through the gates, a chaos of cavalry and ar- 
tillery struggling for the right of way. Close upon 
them stimibled the infantry ; here a skeleton of a regi- 
ment marching with a desperate attempt at order; 
there a riotous mob of Mobiles crushing their way 
to the streets; then a turmoil of horsemen, cannon, 
troops without officers, officers without men, then 
again a line of ambulances, the wheels groaning un- 
der their heavy loads. 

Dimib with misery, the crowd looked on. 

All through the day the ambulances had been ar- 
riving, and all day long the ragged throng whimpered 
and shivered by the barriers. At noon the crowd 
was increased tenfold, filling the squares about the 
gates and swarming over the inner fortifications. 

At four o'clock in the afternoon the German batteries 
suddenly wreathed themselves in smoke, and the shells 

182 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

fell fast on Montparnasse. At twenty minutes after 
four two projectiles struck a house in the Rue de Bac^ 
and a moment later the first shell fell in the Latin 
Quarter. 

Braith was painting in bed when West came in, very 
much scared. 

"I wish you would come down; our house has been 
knocked into a cocked hat, and I'm afraid that some 
of the pillagers may take it into their heads to pay us 
a visit to-night." 

Braith jumped out of bed and bundled himself into 
a garment which had once been an overcoat. 

"Anybody hurt?" he inquired, struggling with a 
sleeve full of dilapidated lining. 

"No. Colette is barricaded in the cellar, and the 
concierge ran away to the fortifications. There will 
be a rough gang there if the bombardment keeps up. 
You might help us — " 

"Of course," said Braith; but it was not until they 
had reached the Rue Serpente, and had turned in the 
passage which led to West's cellar, that the latter 
cried, "Have you seen Jack Trent to-day?" 

"No," replied Braith, looking troubled, "he was 
not at Ambulance Headquarters." 

" He stayed to take care of Sylvia, I suppose. " 

A bomb came crashing through the roof of a house 
at the end of the alley and burst in the basement, 
showering the street with slate and plaster. A sec- 
ond struck a chimney and plunged into the garden, 
followed by an avalanche of bricks; and another ex- 
ploded with a deafening report in the next street. 

They hurried along the passage to the steps which 
led to the cellar. Here again Braith stopped. 

" Don't you think I had better run up to see if Jack 
and Sylvia are well intrenched? I can get back be- 
fore dark." 

183 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



It 



tt 



No. Go in and find Colette, and I'll go." 
No, no, let me go; there's no danger." 

"I know it," replied West, calmly; and, dragging 
Braith into the alley, pointed to the cellar-steps. The 
iron door was barred. 

"Colette I Colette I" he called. The door swung in- 
ward, and the girl sprang up the steps to meet them. 
At that instant Braith, glancing behind him, gave 
a startled cry, and, pushing the two before him into 
the cellar, jumped down after them and slammed the 
iron door. A few seconds later a heavy jar from the 
outside shook the hinges. 

They are here," muttered West, very pale. 
That door," observed Colette, calmly, "will hold 
forever." 

Braith examined the low iron structure, now trem- 
bling with the blows rained on it from without. West 
glanced anxiously at Colette, who displayed no agi- 
tation, and this comforted him. 

"I don't believe they will spend much time here," 
said Braith ; " they only rummage in cellars for spir- 
its, I imagine." 

Unless they hear that valuables are buried there." 
But surely nothing is buried here?" exclaimed 
Braith, uneasily. 

"Unfortunately there is," growled West. "That 
miserly landlord of mine — " 

A crash from the outside, followed by a yell, cut 
him short ; then blow after blow shook the doors until 
there came a sharp snap, a clinking of metal, and a 
triangular bit of iron fell inward, leaving a hole through 
which struggled a ray of light. 

Instantly West knelt, and, shoving his revolver 
through tiie aperture, fired every cartridge. For a 
moment the alley resounded with the racket of the 
revolver, then absolute silence followed. 

184 



ft 
tt 



tl 
tt 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

Presently a single questioning blow fell upon the 
door^ and a moment later another, and another, and 
then a sudden crack zigzagged across the iron plate. 
Here/' said West, seizing Colette by the wrist; 

you follow me, BraithI" and he ran swiftly towards 
a circular spot of light at the farther end of the cellar. 
The spot of light came from a barred man-hole above. 
West motioned Braith to mount on his shoulders. 

"Push it over. You must I" 

With little efifort Braith lifted the barred cover, scram- 
bled out on his stomach, and easily raised Colette 
from West's shoulders. 

"Quick, old chap I" cried the latter. 

Braith twisted his legs suround a fence chain and 
leaned down again. The cellar was flooded with a 
yellow light, and the air reeked with the stench of pe- 
troleum torches. The iron door still held, but a whole 
plate of metal was gone ; and now, as they looked, a 
figure came creeping through, holding a torch. 

"Quickl" whispered Braith. "JumpI" and West 
hung dangling, until Colette grasped him by the col- 
lar and he was dragged out. Then her nerves gave 
way, and she wept hysterically, but West threw his 
arm around her and led her across the gardens into 
the next street, where Braith, after replacing the man- 
hole cover, and piling some stone slabs from the wall 
over it, rejoined them. It was almost dark. They 
hurried through the street, now only lighted by burn- 
ing buildings or the swift glare of the shells. They 
gave wide berth to the fires, but at a distance saw the 
flitting forms of pillagers among the d6bris. Some- 
times they passed a female, fury-crazed with drink, 
shrieking anathemas upon the world, or some slouch- 
ing lout whose blackened face and hands betrayed 
his share in the work of destruction. At last they 
reached the Seine and passed the bridge, and then 

185 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

Braith said, " I must go back. I am not sure of Jack 
and Sylvia." As he spoke he made way for a crowd 
which came trampling across the bridge and along 
the river-wall by the d'Orsay barracks. In the midst 
of it West caught the measured tread of a platoon. A 
lantern passed, a file of bayonets, then another lan- 
tern which glimmered on a deathly face behind, and 
Colette gasped, "HartmanI" and he was gone. They 
peered fearfully across the embankment, holding their 
breath. There was a shuffle of feet on the quay and 
the gate of the barracks slammed. A lantern shone 
for a moment at the postern, the crowd pressed to the 
grille, then came the clang of the volley from the stone 
parade. 

One by one the petroleum torches flared up along 
the embankment, and now the whole square was in 
motion. Down from the Champs Elys6es, and across 
the Place de la Concorde, straggled the fragments of the 
battle, a company here and a mob there. They poured 
in from every street, followed by women and children, 
and a great murmur, borne on the icy wind, swept 
through the Arc de Triomphe, and down the dark 
avenue — "PerdusI perdusl" 

A ragged end of ^ battalion was pressing past, the 
spectre of annihilation. West groaned. Then a fig- 
ure sprang from the shadowy ranks and called West's 
name, and when he saw it was Trent he cried out. 
Trent seized him, white with terror. 

''Sylvia?" 

West stared speechless, but Colette moaned, ''Oh, 
Sylvia! Sylvia 1 and they are shelling the Quarter!" 

" Trent!" shouted Braith ; but he was gone, and they 
could not overtake him. 

The bombardment ceased as Trent crossed the Bou- 
levard St. Germain, but the entrance to the Rue de 
Seine was blocked by a heap of smoking bricks. Every- 

t86 



THE STREET OF THE FIRST SHELL 

where the shells had torn great holes in the pavement. 
The caf 6 was a wreck of splinters and glass, the book- 
store tottered, ripped from roof to basement, and the 
little bakery, long since closed, bulged outward above 
a mass of slate and tin. 

He climbed over the steaming bricks and hurried 
into the Rue de Tournon. On the corner a fire blazed, 
lighting up his own street, and on the blank wall, 
beneath a shattered gas-lamp, a child was writing 
with a bit of cjnder. 

Herb Fbke the First Shbba. 

The letters stared him in the face. The rat-killer 
finished and stepped back to view his work, but, catch- 
ing sight of Trent's bayonet, screamed and fled; and 
as Trent staggered across the shattered street, from 
holes and crannies in the ruins fierce women fled from 
their work of pillage, cursing him. 

At first he could not find his house, for the tears 
blinded him, but he felt along the wall and reached 
the door. A lantern burned in the concierge's lodge, 
and the old man lay dead beside it. Faint with fright, 
he leaned a moment on his rifle, then, snatching the 
lantern, sprang up the stairs. He tried to call, but his 
tongue hardly moved. On the second floor he saw 
plaster on the stair- way, and on the third the floor was 
torn and the concierge lay in a pool of blood across the 
landing. The next floor was his — theirs. The door 
hung from its hinges, the walls gaped. He crept in 
and sank down by the bed, and there two arms were 
flung around his neck and a tear-stained face sought 
his own. 

"Sylvia!" 

"Oh, Jack! Jack! Jack!" 

From the tumbled pillow beside them a child wailed. 

187 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



it 

tt 



They brought it; it is mine/' she sobbed. 
Ours/' he whispered, with his arms around them 
both. 
Then from the stairs below came Braith's anxious 



voice. 
''Trent I Is aU weU?" 



THE STREET OF OUR LADY 
OF THE FIELDS 



£t tous les jours passes dans la tristesse 
Nous sont compt6s comme des jours heureuxf 



THE STREET OF OUR LADY 

OF THE FIELDS 



THE street is not fashionable, neither is it shabby. 
It is a pariah among streets — a street without 
a Quarter. It is generally understood to lie outside 
the pale of the aristocratic Avenue de TObservatoire. 
The students of the Montparnasse Quarter consider 
it swell and will have none of it. The Latin Quarter, 
from the Luxembourg, its northern frontier, sneers 
at its respectability, and regards with disfavor the 
correctly costumed students who haunt it. Few 
strangers go into it. At times, however, the Latin 
Quarter students use it as a thoroughfare between 
the Rue de Rennes and the BulUer, but except for 
that, and the weekly afternoon visits of parents and 
guardians to the convent near the Rue Vavin, the 
street of Our Lady of the Fields is as quiet as a Pas- 
sy boulevard. Perhaps the most respectable portion 
lies between the Rue de la Grande Qiaumi^re and the 
Rue Vavin; at least this was the conclusion arrived 
at by the Rev. Joel Bjrram as he rambled through 
it with Hastings in charge. To Hastings the street 
looked pleasant in the bright June weather, and he had 
begun to hope for its selection. The Reverend Byram 
shied violently at the cross on the convent opposite, 

191 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

sucked in his lips, and looked about him. He was im- 
pressed by the evident respectability of the surround- 
ings. Then, frowning at the convent, he took Has- 
tings's arm and shuffled across the street to an iron 
gate-way which bore the number 201 bis painted in 
white on a blue ground. Below this was a notice 
printed in English : 

1. For Porter please oppress once. 

2. For Servant please oppress twice. 

3. For Parlor please oppress thrice. 

Hastings touched the electric button three times, 
and they were ushered through the garden and into 
the parlor by a trim maid. The dining-room door, 
just beyond, was open, and from the table, in plain 
view, a stout woman hastily arose and came towards 
them. Hastings caught a glimpse of a young man 
with a big head and several snuffy old gentlemen at 
breakfast before the door closed, and the stout woman 
waddled into the room, bringing with her an aroma 
of coffee and a black poodle. 

"It ees a plaisir to you receive I" she cried; "mon- 
sieur is Anglish? No? Amfiricain? Off course. My 
pension it ees for Am^ricains surtout. Here all spik 
Angleesh, c'est-^-dire, ze personelle; ze sairvants do 
spik, plus ou moins, a little. I am happy to have you 
comme pensionaires — '* 

"Madame," began Dr. Byram, but was cut short 
again. 

" Ah, yess, I know, ah I mon Dieu I you do not spik 
Frainch, but you have come to lairnel My husband 
does spik Frainch wiss ze pensionaires. We have at 
ze moment a family Am^ricaine who learn of my hus- 
band Frainch — " 

Here the poodle growled at Dr. Byram and was 
promptly cuffed by his mistress. 

192 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

" Veux-tuI" she cried, with a slap— "veux-tui Oh! 
le vilain, oh I le vilainl" 

"Mais, madame," said Hastings^ smiling, "il n'a 
pas Tair trfes ffiroce/' 

The poodle fled, and his mistress cried, " Ah, ze ac- 
cent charming I He does spik already Frainch like 
a Parisien young gentleman I" 

Then Dr. Bjnram managed to get in a word or two, 
and gathered more or less information in regard to 
prices. 

"It ees a pension s6rieux; my clientele ees of ze 
best — indeed, a pension de f amille, where one ees at 



ome. 



Then they went up-stairs to examine Hastings's 
future quarters, test the bed-springs, and arrange for 
the weekly towel allowance. Dr. Byram appeared sat- 
isfied. 

Madame Marotte accompanied them to the door 
and rang for the maid, but, as Hastings stepped out 
into the gravel walk, his guide and mentor paused a 
moment and fixed madame with his watery eyes. 

"You understand,'' he said, "that he is a youth of 
most careful bringing-up, and his character and mor- 
als are without a stain. He is young and has never 
been abroad — never even seen a large city — and his 
parents have requested me, as an old family friend 
living in Paris, to see that he is placed under good in- 
fluences. He is to study art, but on no account would 
his parents wish him to live in the Latin Quarter if they 
knew of the immorality which is rife there." 

A sound hke the click of a latch interrupted him, 
and he raised his eyes, but not in time to see the maid 
slap the big-headed young man behind the parlor door. 

Madame coughed, cast a deadly glance behind her, 
and then beamed on Dr. B3n:am. 

"It ees well zat he come here. The pension more 
»3 193 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

serious, il n'en existe pas, eel ees not anyl" she an- 
nounced, with conviction. 

So, as there was nothing more to add. Dr. B3n:am 
joined Hastings at the gate. 

"I trust," he said, "that you will make few ac- 
quaintances among the students." 

Hastings looked at the convent until a pretty girl 
passed before the gray f agade, and then he looked at 
her. A young fellow with a paint-box and canvas 
C£mie swinging along, stopped before the pretty girl, 
said something during a brief but vigorous hand- 
shake at which they^ both laughed, and he went his 
way, calling back, "A demain, Valentine I" as in the 
same breath she cried, "A demain I" 

"Valentine," thought Hastings — "what a quaint 
namel" and he started to follow the Rev. Joel Byram, 
who was shufiBLing towards the nearest tramway sta- 
tion. 



n 

"AN* you are pleas wiz Paris, Monsieur 'Astang?'* 
f\ demanded Madame Marotte the next morn- 
ing, as Hastings came into the breakfast-room of the 
pension rosy from his plunge in the limited bath above. 

"I am sure I sludl like it/' he replied, wondering at 
his own depression of spirits. 

The maid brought him cofifee and rolls. He re- 
turned the vacant glance of the big-headed young 
man, and acknowledged diffidently the salutes of the 
snufify old gentlemen. He did not try to finish his 
coffee, and sat crumbling a roll, unconscious of the 
sympathetic glances of Madame Marotte, who had tact 
enough not to bother him. 

Presently a maid entered with a tray on which was 
balanced two bowls of chocolate, and the snuffy old 
gentlemen leered at her ankles. The maid deposited 
the chocolate at a table near the window and smiled 
at Hastings. Then a thin young lady, followed by 
her counterpart in all except years, marched into the 
room and took the table near tiie window. They were 
evidently American, but Hastings, if he expected any 
sign of recognition, was disappointed. To be ignored 
by compatriots intensified his depression. He ftun- 
bled with his knife and looked at his plate. 

The thin young lady was talkative enough. She 
was quite aware of Hastings's presence, ready to be 
flattered if he looked at her, but, on the other hand, 
she felt her superiority, for she had been three weeks 

195 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

in Paris, and he, it was easy to see, had not yet un- 
packed his steamer-trunk. 

Her conversation was complacent. She argued with 
her mother upon the relative merits of the Louvre and 
the Bon March^, but her mother's part of the discus- 
sion was mostly confined to the observation, "Why, 
Susiel" 

The snuffy old gentlemen had left the room in a 
body, outwardly polite and inwardly raging. They 
could not endure the Americans, who filled the room 
with their chatter. 

The big-headed young man looked after them with 
a knowing cough, murmuring, "Gay old birds!'' 

"They look like bad old men, Mr. Bladen," said the 
girl. 

To this Mr. Bladen smiled, and said, " They've had 
their day," in a tone which implied that he was now 
having his. 

"And that's why they all have baggy eyes," cried 
the girl. "I think it's a shame for young gentle- 
men — " 

"Why, Susie 1" said the mother, and the conversa- 
tion lagged. 

After a while Mr. Bladen threw down the P^it Jour- 
nal, which he daily studied at the expense of the house, 
and, turning to Hastings, started to make himself 
agreeable. He began by saying, "I see you are an 

American." 

To this brilliant and original opening, Hastings, 
deadly homesick, replied gratefully, and the conver- 
sation was judiciously nourished by observations 
from Miss Susie Byng, distinctly addressed to Mr. 
Bladen. In the course of events. Miss Susie, forget- 
ting to address herself exclusively to Mr. Bladen, and 
Hastings replying to her general question, the etitente 
cordiale was estabhshed, and Susie and her mother 

196 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

extended a protectorate over what was clearly neutral 
territory. 

" Mr. Hastings, you must not desert the pension every 
evening as Mr. Bladen does. Paris is an awful place 
for young gentlemen, and Mr. Bladen is a horrid cynic. " 

Mr. Bladen looked gratified. 

Hastings answered, "I shall be at the studio all 
day, and I imagine I shall be glad enough to come 
back at night." 

Mr. Bladen, who, at a salary of fifteen dollars a 
week, acted as agent for the Pewly Manufacturing 
Company of Troy, New York, smiled a sceptical smile, 
and withdrew to keep an appointment with a customer 
on the Boulevard Magenta. 

Hastings walked into the garden with Mrs. Byng 
and Susie, and, at their invitation, sat down in the 
shade before the iron gate. 

The chestnut - trees still bore their fragrant spikes 
of pink and white, and the bees himuned among the 
roses trellised on the white-walled house. 

A faint freshness was in the air. The watering- 
carts moved up and down the street, and a clear stream 
bubbled over the spotless gutters of the Rue de la Grande 
Chaimii^re. The sparrows were merry along the curb- 
stones, taking bath after bath in the water and ruffling 
their feathers with delight. In a walled garden across 
the street a pair of blackbirds whistled among the al- 
mond-trees. 

Hastings swallowed the Itmip in his throat, for the 
song of the birds and the ripple of water in a Paris 
gutter brought back to him the sunny meadows of 
Millbrook. 

"That's a blackbird," observed Miss Byng; "see 
him there on the bush with pink blossoms. He's 
all black except his bill, and that looks as if it had been 
dipped in an omelet, as some Frenchman says — " 

197 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

"Why, Susiel" said Mrs. Byng. 

" That garden belongs to a studio inhabited by two 
Americans/' continued the girl, serenely, ''and I often 
see them pass. They seem to need a great many 
models, mostly young and feminine — " 

"Why, Susiel" 

"Perhaps they prefer painting that kind, but I don't 
see why they should invite five, with three more young 
gentlemen, and all get into two cabs and drive away 
singing. This street," she continued, "is dull. There 
is nothing to see except the garden and a glimpse of 
the Boulevard Montpamasse through the Rue de la 
Grande Chaumi^re. No one ever passes except a 
policeman. There is a convent on the comer." 

"I thought it was a Jesuit college," began Has- 
tings, but was at once overwhelmed with a Baedeker 
description of the place, ending with, "On one side 
stand the palatial h6tels of Jean Paul Laurens and 
Guillaume Bouguereau, and opposite, in the httle Pas- 
sage Stanislas, Carolus Duran paints the masterpieces 
which charm the world." 

The blackbird burst into a ripple of golden, throaty 
notes, and from some distant green spot in the city 
an unknown wild bird answered with a frenzy of Uquid 
trills until the sparrows paused in their ablutions to 
look up with restless chirps. 

Then a butterfly came and sat on a cluster of helio- 
trope and waved his crimson-banded wings in the hot 
sunshine. Hastings knew him for a friend, and be- 
fore his eyes there came a vision of tall mullins and 
scented milkweed, alive with painted wings, a vision of 
a white house and woodbine-covered piazza — a glimpse 
of a man reading and a woman leaning over the 
pansy-bed — ^and his heart was full. He was startled 
a moment later by Miss Byng. 

"I believe you are homesick!" Hastings blushed. 

198 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

Miss Byng looked at him with a S3mipathetic sigh, 
and continued : " Whenever I felt homesick, at first, I 
used to go with mamma and wedk in the Luxembourg 
Gardens. I don't know why it is, but those old-fash- 
ioned gardens seem to bring me nearer home than 
anything in this artificial city/' 

"But they are full of marble statues," said Mrs. 
Byng, mildly. "I don't see the resemblance myself." 

"Where is the Luxembourg?" inquired Hastings, 
after a silence. 

"Come with me to the gate," said Miss Byng. He 
rose and followed her, and she pointed out the Rue 
Vavin at the foot of the street. 

"You pass by the convent to the right," she smiled; 
and Hastings went. 



Ill 

THE Luxembourg was a blaze of flowers. 
He walked slowly through the long avenues of 
trees, past mossy marbles and old-time columns, and, 
threading the grove by the bronze lion, came upon 
the tree-crowned terrace above the fountain. Below 
lay the basin shining in the sunlight. Flowering al- 
monds encircled the terrace, and, in a greater spiral, 
groves of chestnuts wound in and out and down among 
the moist thickets by the western palace wing. At 
one end of the avenue of trees the Observatory rose, 
its white domes piled up like an eastern mosque; at 
the other end stood the heavy palace, with every win- 
dow-pane ablaze in the fierce sun of June. 

Around the fountain children and white -capped 
nurses, armed with bamboo poles, were pushing toy 
boats, whose sails htmg limp in the sunshine. A park 
poUceman, wearing red epaulets and a dress sword, 
watched them for a while, and then went away to re- 
monstrate with a young man who had imchained his 
dog. The dog was pleasantly occupied in rubbing grass 
and dirt into his back while his legs waved in the air. 
The policeman pointed at the dog. He was speech- 
less with indignation. 

Well, Captain?" smiled the young fellow. 
Well, Monsieur Student?" growled the policemaa 
What do you come and complain to me for?" 
If you don't chain him, I'll take him," shouted the 
poUceman. 

200 



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it 
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STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 



" What's that to me, mon Capitaine?" 
"Wha-tl Isn't that buU-dog yours?" 



K it was, don't you suppose I'd chain him?" 
The ojficer glared for a moment in silence, then, de- 
ciding that as he was a student he was wicked, grabbed 
at the dog, who promptly dodged. Around and aroimd 
the flower-beds they raced; and when the oificer came 
too near for comfort, the bull-dog cut across a flower- 
bed, which, perhaps, was not playing fair. 

Tlie yoimg man was amused, and the dog also 
seemed to enjoy the exercise. 

The pohceman noticed this, and decided to strike 
at the fountain-head of the evil. He stormed up to 
the student and said, "As the owner of this pubUc 
nuisance, I arrest you!" 
"But," objected the other, "I disclaim the dog." 
That was a poser. It was useless to attempt to 
catch the dog until three gardeners lent a hand, but 
then the dog simply ran away and disappeared in the 
Rue de Medici. 

The policeman shambled off to find consolation 
among the white-capped nurses, and the student, look- 
ing at his watch, stood up yawning. Then, catching 
sight of Hastings, he smiled and bowed. Hastings 
walked over to the marble, laughing. 

Why, Clifford," he said, "I didn't recognize you." 
It's my mustache," sighed the other. "I sacrificed 
it to hmnor a whim of — of — a. friend. What do you 
think of my dog?" 

Then he is yours?" cried Hastings. 
Of course. It's a pleasant change for him, this 
plajong tag with policemen, but he is known now, 
and I'll have to stop it. He's gone home. He al- 
ways does when the gardeners take a hand. It's a 
pity; he's fond of rolling on lawns." Then they 
chatted for a moment of Hastings's prospects, and 

201 









THE KING IN YELLOW 

Clifford politely offered to stand his sponsor at the 
studio. 

" You see, old tabby — ^I mean Dr. Byram — ^told me 
about you before I met you/' explained Clifford, "and 
Elliott and I will be glad to do anything we can." 
Then, looking at his watch again, he muttered, " I have 
just ten minutes to catch the Versailles train; au re- 
voir,'' and started to go, but, catching sight of a girl 
advancing by the fountain, took off his hat with a 
confused smile. 

"Why are you not at Versailles?" she said, with an 
almost imperceptible acknowledgment of Hastings's 
presence. 

"I — I'm going," murmm-ed Clifford. 

For a moment they faced each other, and then Clif- 
ford, very red, stammered, "With your permission, I 
have the honor of presenting to you my friend. Mon- 
sieur Hastings." 

Hastings bowed low. She smiled very sweetly, but 
there was something of maUce in the quiet inchnation 
of her small Parisienne head. 

"I could have wished," she said, "that Monsieur 
Clifford might spare me more time when he brings 
with him so charming an American." 

Must — ^must I go, Valentine?" began Clifford. 
Certainly," she replied. 

Clifford took his leave with very bad grace, wincing 
when she added, " And give my dearest love to C6cilel" 
As he disappeared in the Rue d'Assas the girl turned, 
as if to go, but then, suddenly remembering Hastings, 
looked at him and shook her head. 

"Monsieur Clifford is so perfectly hare-brained," she 
smiled, "it is embarrassing sometimes. You have 
heard, of course, all about his success at the Salon?" 

He looked puzzled, and she noticed it. 

"You have been to the Salon, of course?" 

202 






STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

"Why, no/' he answered, "I only arrived in Paris 
three days ago." 

She seemed to pay little heed to his explanation, 
but continued : " Nobody imagined he had the energy 
to do anything good, but on varnishing day the Salon 
was astonished by the entrance of Monsieur ClifiFord, 
who strolled about as bland as you please, with an 
orchid in his button-hole and a beautiful pictm-e on 
the Une." 

She smiled to herself at the reminiscence, and looked 
at the fountain. 

"Monsieur Bouguereau told me that Monsieur 
Julian was so astonished that he only shook hands 
with Monsieiu* Clifford in a dazed manner, and actu- 
ally forgot to pat him on the back I Fancy," she con- 
tinued, with much merriment— "fancy Papa JuUan 
forgetting to pat one on the back." 

Hastings, wondering at her acquaintance with the 
great Bouguereau, looked at her with respect. " May 
I ask," he said, diffidently, " whether you are a pupil 
of Monsieur Bouguereau?" 

" I," she said, in some surprise. Then she looked at 
him curiously. Was he permitting himself the liberty 
of joking on such short acquaintance? 

His pleasant, serious face questioned hers. 
Tiens," she thought, "what a droll man." 
You surely study art?" he said. 

She leaned back on the crooked stick of her parasol 
and looked at him. " Why do you think so?" 

"Because you speak as if you did." 

"You are making fun of me," she said, "and it is 
not good taste." 

She stopped, confused, as he colored to the roots of 
his hair. 

"How long have you been in Paris?" she said, at 
length. 

203 






THE KING IN YELLOW 



4t 



Three days/' he replied, gravely. 

"But — ^but — ^surely you are not a nouveaul You 
speak French too welll" 

Then, after a pause, "Really, are you a nouveau?" 

"I am,'' he said. 

She sat down on the marble bench lately occupied 
by Clififord, and, tilting her parasol over her small head, 
looked at him. 

"I don't beheve it." 

He felt the compliment, and for a moment hesitated 
to declare himself one of the despised. Then muster- 
ing up his courage, he told her how new and green he 
was, and all with a frankness which made her blue 
eyes open very wide and her lips part in the sweetest 
of smiles. 

" You have never seen a studio?" 

"Never." 

"Nor a model?" 

"No." 

" How funny," she said, solemnly. Then they both 
laughed. 

"And you," he said, "have seen studios?" 

"Hundreds." 

"And models?" 

"MilUons." 
And you know Bouguereau?" 
Yes, and Henner, and Constant, and Laurens, 
and Puvis de Qiavannes, and Dagnan, and Courtois, 
and — ^and all the rest of them I" 

"And yet you say you are not an artist." 

"Pardon," she said, gravely, "did I say I was not?" 

" Won't you tell me?" he hesitated. 

At first she looked at him, shaking her head and 
smiling, then of a sudden her eyes fell and she began 
tracing figiires with her parasol in the gravel at her 
feet. Hastings had taken a place on the seat, and 

204 



H 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

now, with his elbows on his knees, sat watching the 
spray drifting above the fountain-jet. A small boy, 
dressed as a sailor, stood poking his yacht and cry- 
ing, "I won't go home I I won't go home!" His 
nurse raised her hands to heaven. 

"Just like a Uttle American boy," thought Has- 
tings, and a pang of homesickness shot through him. 

Presently the nurse captured the boat and the small 
boy stood at bay. 

"Monsieur Ren6, when you decide to come here 
you may have your boat." 

The boy backed away, scowling. 

"Give me my boat, I say," he cried, "and don't call 
me Ren6, for my name's Randall, and you know it!" 

"Hello!" said Hastings— "RandaU?— that's Eng- 
Ush." 

" I am American," annotmced the boy, in perfectly 
good English, turning to look at Hastings, " and she's 
such a fool she calls me Ren£ because mamma calls 
me Ranny — " 

Here he dodged the exaspa'ated nurse and took 
up his station behind Hastings, who laughed, and, 
catching him around the waist, Ufted him into his 
lap. 

"One of my countrymen," he said to the girl beside 
him. He smiled while he spoke, but there was a queer 
feeling in his throat. 

"Don't you see the stars and stripes on my yacht?" 
demanded Randall. Sure enough, the American colors 
hung limply under the nurse's arm. 

"Oh," cried the girl, "he is charming," and impul- 
sively stooped to kiss him, but the infant Randall 
wriggled out of Hastings's arms and his nurse pounced 
upon him with an angry glance at the girl. 

She reddened, and then bit her lips, as the nurse, 
with her eyes still fixed on her, dragged the child away 

205 



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THE KING IN YELLOW 

and ostentatiously wiped his lips with her handker- 
chief. 

Then she stole a look at Hastings, and bit her lip 
again. 

" What an ill-tempered woman!" he said. " In Amer- 
ica most mirses are flattered when people kiss their 
children." 

For an instant she tipped the parasol to hide her 
face, then closed it with a snap and looked at him de- 
fiantly. 

Do you think it strange that she objected?" 
Why not?" he said, in surprise. 

Again she looked at him with quick, searching eyes. 

His eyes were clear and bright, and he smiled back, 
repeating, "Why not?" 

You are droll," she murmured, bending her head. 
Why?" 

But she made no answer, and sat silent, tracing 
curves and circles in the dust with her parasol. After 
a while he said : "I am glad to see that young people 
have so much liberty here. I understood that the 
French were not at all like us. You know in Amer- 
ica — or at least where I live, in Millbrook — girls have 
every liberty : go out alone and receive their friends 
alone, and I was afraid I should miss it here. But I 
see how it is now, and I am glad I was mistaken." 

She raised her eyes to his and kept them there. 

He continued, pleasantly: "Since I have sat here 
I have seen a lot of pretty girls walking alone on the 
terrace there — and, then, you are alone, too. Tell 
me, for I do not know French customs, do you have 
the liberty of going to the theatre without a chape- 
ron?" 

For a long time she studied his face, and then, with 
a trembling smile, said, " Why do you ask me?" 

" Because you must know, of course," he said, gayly. 

206 



STREET OP OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

"Yes/' she replied, indififerently, "I know." 

He waited for an answer; but, getting none, decided 
that perhaps she had misunderstood him. 

"I hope you don't think I mean to presume on our 
short acquaintance," he began; "in fact, it is very 
odd, but I don't know your name. When Mr. Cliflford 
presented me he only' mentioned mine. Is that the 
custom in France?" 

"It is the custom in the Latin Quarter," she said, 
with a queer hght in her eyes. Then suddenly she 
began talking, almost feverishly. " You must know. 
Monsieur Hastings, that we are all un peu sans gfene 
here in the Latin Quarter. We are very Bohemian, 
and etiquette and ceremony are out of place. It was 
for that Monsieur Clifford presented you to me with 
small ceremony, and left us together with less — only 
for that, and I am his friend, and I have many friends 
in the Latin Quarter, and we all know each other very 
well — and I am not studying art, but — ^but — " 
But what?" he said, bewildered. 
I shall not tell you — it is a secret," she said, with 
an imcertain smile. On both cheeks a pink spot was 
burning, and her eyes were very bright. 

Then in a moment her face fell. "Do you know 
Monsieur Clifford very intimately?" 

"Not very." 

After a while she tm-ned to him, grave and a little 
pale. 

"My name is Valentine — ^Valentine Tissot. Might 
— ^might I ask a service of you on such very short ac- 
quaintance?" 

Oh," he cried, "I should be honored." 
It is only this," she said, gently, " it is not much. 
Promise me not to speak to Monsieur Clifford about 
me. Promise me that you will speak to no one about 



tt 
(t 






me. 



207 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

" I promise/' he said^ greatly puzzled. 

She laughed nervously. " I wish to remain a mys- 
tery. It is a caprice." 

" But/' he began, " I had wished — ^I had hoped that 
you might give Monsieur Clifford permission to bring 
me, to present me at your house/' 

"My — ^my housel" she repeated. 

"I mean, where you Uve; in fact, to present me to 
your family." 

The change in the girl's face shocked him. 

''I beg your pardon/' he cried, "I have hurt you/' 

And as quick as a flash she tmderstood him be- 
cause she was a woman. 

"My parents are dead," she said. 

Presently he began again, very gently. 

" Would it displease you if I beg you to receive me? 
Is it the custom?" 

"I cannot," she answered. Then, glancing up at 
him, "I am sorry; I should like to; but, beUeve me, I 
cannot." 

He bowed seriously and looked vaguely uneasy. 

"It isn't because I don't wish to. I — ^I like you; 
you are very kind to me." 

"Kind?" he cried, surprised and puzzled. 

" I like you," she said, slowly, " and we will see each 
other sometimes if you will." 

"At friends' houses?" 

" No, not at friends' houses. " 

"Where?" 
Here," she said, with defiant eyes. 
Why," he cried, "in Paris you are much more 
hberal in yom* views than we are." 

She looked at him curiously. 
Yes, we are very Bohemian." 
I think it is charming," he declared. 

"You see, we shall be in the best of society," she 

208 



it 
44 



44 
44 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

ventured, timidly, with a pretty gesture towards the 
statues of the dead queens, ranged in stately ranks 
above the terrace. 

He looked at her, delighted, and she brightened at 
the success of her innocent little pleasantry. 

"Indeed," she smiled, "I shall be well chaperoned, 
because you see we are under the protection of the 
gods themselves; look, there are Apollo and Juno 
and Venus, on their pedestals," counting them on 
her small, gloved fingers, "and Ceres, Hercules, and 
— but I can't make out — " 

Hastings turned to look up at the winged god un- 
der whose shadow they were seated. 

"Why, it's Love," he said. 



T 



IV 



HERB is a nouveau here/' drawled Laffat, lean- 
ing arotuid his easel and addressing his friend 
Bowles — ^" there is a nouveau here who is so tender 
and green and appetizing that Heaven help him if he 
shoidd fall into a salad-bowl/' 

" Hayseed?" inquired Bowles, plastering in a back- 
ground with a broken palette - knife and squinting at 
the effect with approval. 

"Yes, Squeedunk or Oshkosh, and how he ever 
grew up among the daisies and escaped the cows. 
Heaven alone knows I" 

Bowles rubbed his thimib across the outlines of his 
study to "throw in a little atmosphere,'' as he said, 
glared at the model, pulled at his pipe, and, finding 
it out, struck a match on his neighbor's back to re- 
light it. 

"His name," continued Laffat, hurling a bit of 
bread at the hat-rack — "his name is Hastings. He 
is a berry. He knows no more about the world" — 
and here Mr. Laffat's face spoke volumes for his own 
knowledge of that planet — "than a maiden cat on 
its first moonlight sbroll." 

Bowles now having succeeded in lighting his pipe, 
repeated the thimib touch on the other edge of the 
study and said, "Ah I" 

"Yes," continued his friend, "and would you im- 
agine it, he seems to think that everything here goes 
on as it does in his damned little backwoods ranch at 

210 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

home; talks about the pretty girls who walk alone in 
the street; says how sensible it is; and how French 
parents are misrepresented in America; says that 
for his part he finds French girls— ^and he confessed 
to only knowing one— as jolly as American girls. I 
tried to set him right, tried to give him a pointer as to 
what sort of ladies walk about alone or with students, 
and he was either too stupid or too innocent to catch on. 
Then I gave it to him straight, and he said I was a 
vile-minded fool, and marched off." 

"Did you assist him with your shoe?" inquired 
Bowles, languidly interested. 

"WeU, no.'' 
He called you a vile-minded fool." 
He was correct," said Clifford, from his easel in front. 
What — what do you mean?" demanded Laffat, 
turning red. 

''That/' repUed Clifford. 

"Who spoke to you? Is this your business?" 
sneered Bowles, but nearly lost his balance as Clif* 
ford swung about and eyed him. 

"Yes," he said, slowly, "it's my business." 

No one spoke for some time. 

Then Chfford sang out, "I say, Hastings I" 

And when Hastings left his easel and came around, 
he nodded towards the astonished Laffat. 

"This man has been disagreeable to you, and I 
want to tell you that any time you feel inclined to kick 
him, why, I will hold the other creature." 

Hastings, embarrassed, said, "Why, no. I don't 
agree with his ideas, nothing more." 

Clifford said, "Naturally," and, slipping his arm 
through Hastings's, strolled about with him, and in- 
troduced him to several of his own friends, at which 
all the nouveaux opened their eyes with envy, and the 
studio were given to tinderstand that Hastings, al- 

211 



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it 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

though prepared to do menial work as the latest nour 
veau, was already within the charmed circle of the old, 
respected, and feared, the truly great. 

The rest finished, the model resumed his place, and 
work went on in a chorus of songs and yells, and 
every ear-splitting noise which the art student utters 
when studying the beautiful. 

Five o'clock struck. The model yawned, stretched, 
and climbed into his trousers, and the noisy contents 
of six studios crowded through the hall and down 
into the street. Ten minutes later Hastings found 
himself on top of a Montrouge tram, and shortly after- 
wards was joined by Clifford. 
They climbed down at the Rue Gay Lussac. 
"I always stop here," observed Clifford. "I like the 
walk through the Luxembourg.'* 

"By-the-way," said Hastings, "how can I call on 
you when I don't know where you live?" 
Why, I live opposite you." 

What — the studio in the garden where the almond- 
trees are, and the blackbirds — " 

"Exactiy," said Clifford. "I'm with my friend 
EUiott." 

Hastings thought of the description of the two Amer- 
ican artists which he had heard from Miss Susie Byng, 
and looked blank. 

Clifford continued : " Perhaps you had better let me 
know when you think of coming, so — so that I will be 
sure to — to be there," he ended, rather lamely. 

"I shouldn't care to meet any of your model friends 
there," said Hastings, smiling. " You know — my ideas 
are rather strait-laced — ^I suppose you would say. Puri- 
tanical. I shouldn't enjoy it, and wouldn't know how 
to behave." 

"Oh, I understand," said Clifford, but added, with 
great cordiality, " I'm sure we'll be friends, although 

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STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

you may not approve of me and my set; but you will 
like Severn and Selby, because — ^because, well, they 
are like yourself, old chap." 

After a moment he continued: "There is something 
I want to speak about. You see, when I introduced 
you last week in the Luxembourg to Valentine — " 

"Not a word!" cried Hastings, smiling; "you must 
not tell me a word of her I" 
Why—" 

No — not a word!" he said, gayly ; "I insist — prom- 
ise me upon your honor you will not speak of her until 
I give you permission; promise!" 

"I promise," said Clififord, amazed. 

" She is a charming girl. We had such a delightful 
chat after you left, and I thank you for presenting 
me, but not another word about her imtil I give you 
permission. " 

"Oh!" murmured Clifford. 

"Remember your promise," he smiled, as he turned 
into his gate- way. 

Clifford strolled across the street and, traversing the 
ivy-covered alley, entered his garden. 

He felt for his studio key, muttering, " I wonder — I 
wonder — but of course he doesn't!" 

He entered the hall-way, and, fitting the key into 
the door, stood staring at the two cards tacked over 
the panels. 



FOXHALL CLIFFORD. 




213 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

" Why the devil doesn't he want me to speak of her?" 

He opened the door^ and^ discouraging the caresses 
of two brindle bull-dogs, sank down on the sofa. 

Elliott sat smoking and sketching with a piece of 
charcoal by the window. 

''Hello/' he said, without looking around. 

Clifford gazed absently at the back of his head, 
murmuring, "Vm afraid, Tm afraid that man is too 
innocent. I say, Elliott," he said, at last, ''Hastings 
— ^you know the chap that old Tabby Byram came 
aroimd here to tell us about — the day you had to hide 
Colette in the armoire — " 

"Yes, what's up?" 

"Oh, nothing. He's a brick." 
Yes?" said Elliott, without enthusiasm. 
Don't you think so?" demanded Clifford. 
Why, yes, but he is going to have a tough time 
when some of his illusions are dispelled." 
More shame to those who dispel 'em!" 
Yes — ^wait until he comes to pay his call on us, 
unexpectedly, of course — " 

Clifford looked virtuous and lighted a cigar. 

"I was just going to say," he observed, " that I have 
asked him not to come without letting us knojv, so I 
can postpone any orgie you may have intended — " 

"Ahl" cried Elliott, indignantly, "I suppose you 
put it to him in that way." 

" Not exactly," grinned Clifford. Then, more seri- 
ously, " I don't want anything to occur here to bother 
him. He's a brick, and it's a pity we can't be more 
like him." 

" I am," observed Elliott, complacently, " only living 
with you — " 

"Listen I" cried the other. "I have managed to put 
my foot in it in great style. Do you know what I've 
done? Well, the first time I met him in the street, or, 

214 



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STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

rather, it was in the Luxembourg — ^I introduced him 
to Valentinel" 

Did he object?" 

Believe me/' said CUfford, solemnly, ''this rustic 
Hastings has no more idea that Valentine is — is — ^in 
fact, is Valentine, than he has that he himself is a beau- 
tiful example of moral decency in a Quarter where 
morals are as rare as elephants. I heard enough in 
a conversation between that blackgtiard Laffat and 
the Uttle immoral eruption Bowles to open my eyes. 
I tell you, Hastings is a trtmipl He's a healthy, clean- 
minded young fellow, bred in a small country village, 
brought up with the idea that saloons are way-sta- 
tions to hdl — ^and as for women — " 

Well?" demanded Elliott. 

Well," said CliflFord, "his idea of the dangerous 
woman is probably a painted Jezebel." 

Probably," replied the other. 

He's a trtmipl" said Clifford, ''and if he swears 
the world is as good and pure as his own heart, I'll 
swear he's right." 

EUiott rubbed his charcoal on his file to get a point, 
and turned to his sketch, sajmig, "He will never hear 
any pessimism from Richard Osborne E." 

"He's a lesson to me," said CUfford. Then he un- 
folded a small, perf tmied note, written on rose-colored 
paper, which had been lying on the table before him. 
He read it, smiled, whistled a bar or two from " Miss 
Helyett," and sat down to answer it on his best cream- 
laid note-paper. When it was written and sealed, he 
picked up his stick and marched up and down the 
studio two or three times, whistling. 

Going out?" inquired the other, without turning. 

Yes," he said, but Ungered a moment over El- 
Uott's shotdder, watching him pick out the lights in 
his sketch with a bit of bread. 

215 



tt 



41 
tt 



tt 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

''To-morrow is Sunday/' he observed, after a mo- 
ment's silence. 

"Well?" inquired Elliott. 

"Have you seen Colette?" 

"No, I will to-night. She and Rowden and Jacque- 
line are coming to Boulant's. I suppose you and C6- 
cile will be there?" 

"Well, no," replied CliflFord. "C&ile dines at home 
to-night, and I — I had an idea of going to Mignon's." 

Elliott looked at him with disapproval. 

" You can make all the arrangements for La Roche 
without me," he continued, avoiding EUiott's eyes. 

"What are you up to now?" 

"Nothing," protested Clifford. 

"Don't tell me," repUed his chum, with scorn; "fel- 
lows don't rush off to Mignon's when the set dine at 
Botdant's. Who is it now? — but no, I won't ask that; 
what's the use!" Then he lifted up his voice in com- 
plaint and beat upon the table with his pipe. " What's 
the use of ever trying to keep track of you? What 
will C^cile say — oh yes, what will she say? It's a pity 
you can't be constant two months — ^yes, by Jove! and 
the Quarter is indulgent ; but you abuse its good nat- 
ure — ^and mine, too!" 

Presently he arose, and, jamming his hat on his 
head, marched to the door. 

"Heaven alone knows why any one puts up with 
your antics; but they all do, and so do I. If I were 
C^cile, or any of the other pretty fools after whom 
you have toddled, and will, in all human probabilities, 
continue to toddle — ^I say, if I were C6cile, I'd spank 
you! Now I'm going to Botdant's, and, as usual, 
I shall make excuses for you and arrange the affair; 
and I don't care a continental where you are going, 
but, by the skull of the studio skeleton! if you don't 
turn up to-morrow with your sketching-kit under one 

216 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

arm and C6cile under the other — if you don't turn up 
in good shape, Fm done with you, and the rest can 
think what they please. Good-night." 

Clifford said good-night with as pleasant a smile as 
he could muster, and then sat down with his eyes on 
the door. He took out his watch and gave Elliott ten 
minutes to vanish, then rang the concierge's call, mur- 
muring, ''Oh, dear! oh, dearl why the devil do I do it?" 

''Alfred," he said, as that gimlet -eyed person an- 
swered the call, "make yourself clean and proper, 
Alfred, and replace your sabots with a pair of shoes. 
Then put on your best hat and take this letter to the 
big white house in the Rue de Dragon. There is no 
answer, mon petit Alfred." 

The concierge departed with a snort, in which un- 
willingness for the errand and affection for M. Clif- 
ford were blended. Then, with great care, the young 
fellow arrayed himself in all the beauties of his and 
ElUott's wardrobe. He took his time about it, and 
occasionally interrupted his toilet to play his banjo 
or make pleasing diversion for the bull-dogs by gam- 
bolUng about on all fours. " I've got two hours before 
me," he thought, and borrowed a pair of Elliott's silken 
foot-gear, with which he and the dogs played ball, 
until he decided to put them on. Then he Ughted a 
cigarette and inspected his dress-coat. When he had 
emptied it of four handkerchiefs, a fan, and a pair of 
crumpled gloves as long as his arm, he decided it was 
not suited to add iclat to his charms, and cast about 
in his mind for a substitute. Elhott was too thin, 
and, anyway, his coats were now under lock and 
key. Rowden probably was as badly off as him- 
self. Hastings I Hastings was the man I But when 
he threw on a smoking-jacket and sauntered over to 
Hastings's house, he was informed that he had been 
gone over an hour. 

217 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

''Now where in the name of all that's reasonable 
could he have gone I" muttered Clifford, looking down 
the street. 

The maid didn't know, so he bestowed upon her a 
fascinating smile and lounged back to the studio. 

Hastings was not far away. The Luxembourg is 
within five minutes' walk of the Rue Notre Dame des 
Champs, and there he sat under the shadow of a winged 
god, and there he had sat for an hour, poking holes 
in the dust and watching the steps which lead from 
the northern terrace to the fountain. The sun hung, 
a purple globe, above the misty hills of Meudon. Loiig 
streamers of clouds touched with rose swept low on the 
western sky, and the dome of the distant Invalides 
burned like an opal through the haze. Behind the 
palace the smoke from a high chimney moimted straight 
into the air, purple until it crossed the sun, where it 
changed to a bar of smouldering fire. High above the 
darkening foliage of the chestnuts the twin towers of 
St. Sulpice rose, an ever-deepening silhouette. 

A sleepy blackbird was carolling in some near thicket, 
and pigeons passed and repassed with the whisper of 
soft winds in their wihgs. The light on the palace 
windows had died away, and the dome of the Pan- 
theon swam aglow above the northern terrace, a fiery 
Valhalla in the sky, while below in grim array, along 
the terrace ranged, the marble ranks of queens looked 
out into the west. 

From the end of the long walk by the northern facade 
of the palace came the noise of omnibuses and the 
cries of the street. Hastings looked at the paJace 
clock. Six, and, as his own watch agreed with it, he 
fell to poking holes in the gravel again. A constant 
stream of people passed between the Od^on and the 
foimtain. Priests in black, with silver-buckled shoes; 
line soldiers, slouchy and rakish; neat girls without 

218 



STREET OF OUR LADY OP THE FIELDS 

hats, bearing milliners' boxes; students with black 
portfolios and high hats; students with burets and big 
canes; nervous, quick - stepping ofiBicers, symphonies 
in turquoise and silver; ponderous, jangling cavalry- 
men, all over dust; pastry-cooks' boys, skipping along 
with utter disregard for the safety of the basket bal- 
anced on their impish heads ; and then the lean outcast, 
the shambling Paris tramp, slouching, with shoulders 
bent, and little eyes furtively scanning the ground for 
smokers' refuse; all these moved in a steady stream 
across the fountain circle and out into the city by the 
Od£on, whose long arcades were now beginning to 
flicker with gas-jets. The melancholy bells of St. 
Sulpice struck the hour, and the clock-tower of the 
palace lighted up. Then hurried steps sounded across 
the gravel, and Hastings raised his head. 

" How late you are I " he said, but his voice was hoarse, 
and only his flushed face told how long had seemed the 
waiting. 

She said, "I was kept — indeed, I was so much an- 
noyed — ^and — and I niay only stay a moment." 

She sat down beside him, casting a furtive glance 
over her shotdder at the god upon his pedestal. 

" What a nuisance, that intruding Cupid still therel" 

" Wings and arrows, too," said Hastings, unheeding 
her motion to be seated. 

" Wings," she murmured — *' oh yes, to fly away with 
when he's tired of his play. Of course it was a man 
who conceived the idea of wings, otherwise Cupid wotdd 
have been insupportable." 

"Do you think so?" 

"Ma foi, it's what men think." 

"And women?" 

"Oh," she said, with a toss of her small head, "I 
really forgot what we were speaking of." 

We were speaking of love," said Hastings. 

219 



n 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

"'/ was not/' said the girl. Then, looking up at 
the marble god, "I don't care for this one at all. I 
don't believe he knows how to shoot his arrows — ^no, 
indeed, he is a coward; he creeps up like an £issassin 
in the twilight. I don't approve of cowardice/' she 
announced, and turned her back on the statue. 

"I think," said Hastings, quietly, ''that he does 
shoot fairly — ^yes, and even gives one warning." 

"Is it your experience. Monsieur Hastings?" 

He looked straight into her eyes, and said, ** He is 
warning me." 

"Heed the warning, then," she cried, with a ner- 
vous laugh. As she spoke she stripped off her gloves, 
and then carefully proceeded to draw them on again. 
When this was accomplished she glanced at the palace 
dock, saying, "Oh, dear, how late it is I" furled her 
umbrella, then unfurled it, and finally looked at him. 
No," he said, "I shall not heed his warning." 
Oh, dear," she sighed again, "still talking about 
that tiresome statuel" Then, stealing a glance at his 
face, "I suppose — ^I suppose you are in love." 

"I don't know," he muttered, "I suppose I am." 

She raised her head with a quick gesture. "You 
seem delighted at the idea," she said, but bit her lip 
and trembled as his eyes met hers. Then sudden 
fear came over her, and she sprang up, staring into the 
gathering shadows. 

"Are you cold?" he said, but she only answered, 
"Oh, dear! oh, dear! it is late — so late I I must go — 
good-night." 

She gave him her gloved hand a moment, and then 
withdrew it with a start. 

"What is it?" he insisted. "Are you frightened?" 

She looked at him strangely. 
No — no — not frightened — you are very good to 



44 

it , 



"i^ 



220 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

''By Jove!" he burst out, "what do you mean by 
saying I'm good to you? That's at least the third 
time, and I don't understand." 

The sound of a drum from the guard-house at the 
palace cut him short. " Listen/' she whispered, " they 
are going to close. It's late — oh, so late!" 

The rolling of the drum came nearer and nearer, 
and then the silhouette of the drummer cut the sky 
above the eastern terrace. The fading Ught lingered 
a moment on his belt and bayonet, then he passed 
into the shadows, drtmmiing the echoes awake. The 
roll became fainter along the eastern terrace, then 
grew and grew and rattled with increasing sharpness 
when he passed the avenue by the bronze Uon and 
turned down the western terrace -walk. Louder and 
louder the drtmi sounded, and the echoes struck back 
the notes from the gray palace wall ; and now the drum- 
mer loomed up before them, his red trousers a dull 
spot in the gathering gloom, the brass of his drum 
and bayonet touched with a pale spark, his epaulets 
tossing on his shotdders. He passed, leaving the 
crash of the drimi in their ears, and far into the alley 
of trees they saw his little tin cup shining on his hav- 
ersack. Then the sentinels began the monotonous 
cry, "On ferme! on fe-rmel" and the bugle blew from 
the barracks in the Rue de Tournon. 

"On fermel on fennel" 

"Good-night," she whispered, "I must return alone 
to-night." 

He watched her imtil she reached the northern ter- 
race, and then sat down on the marble seat imtil a hand 
on his shotdder and a glimmer of bayonets warned 
him away. 

She passed on through the grove, and, turning into 
the Rue de Medici, traversed it to the boulevard. At 
the comer she bought a btmch of violets, and walked 

221 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

on along the boulevard to the Rue des Ecoles. A cab 
was drawn up before Boulant's, and a pretty girl, aid- 
ed by Elliott, jumped out. 

" Valentinel" cried the girl, "come with usi" 

'"I can't,"' she said, stopping a moment, "I have a 
rendezvous at Mignon's/' 

''Not Victor?" cried the girl, laughing; but she 
passed with a little shiver, nodding good-night, then, 
turning into the Boulevard St. Germain, she walked 
a little faster to escape a gay party sitting before the 
Caf6 Cluny, who called to her to join them. At the 
door of the Restaurant Mignon stood a coal-black 
negro in buttons. He took off his peaked cap as she 
mounted the carpeted stairs. 

''Send Eug&ne to me,'' she said at the office, and, 
passing through the hsdl-way to the right of the din- 
ing-room, stopped before a row of panelled doors. A 
waiter passed and she repeated her demand for Eu- 
gene, who presenUy appeared, noiselessly skipping, 
and bowed, murmuring, "Madame." 

"Who is here?" 

" No one in the cabinets, madame ; in the hall, Ma- 
dame Madelon and Monsieur Gay, Monsieur de Cla- 
mart. Monsieur Clisson, Madame Marie, and their set" 
Then he looked around and, bowing again, murmured, 
"Monsieur awaits madame since half an hour," and 
he knocked at one of the panelled doors bearing the 
number six. 

Clifford opened the door and the girl entered. 

The gargon bowed her in and, whispering, "Will 
monsieur have the goodness to ring," vanished. 

He helped her off with her jacket, and took her hat 
and umbrella. When she was seated at the little table, 
with Clifford opposite, she smiled and leaned forward 
on both elbows, looking him in the face. 

" What are you doing here?" she demanded. 

222 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

" Waiting/' he replied, in accents of adoration. 

For an instant she turned and examined herself in 
the glass. The wide, blue eyes, the curling hair, the 
straight nose and short, curled lip flashed in the mirror 
an instant only, and then its depths reflected her pretty 
neck and back. "Thus do I turn my back on van- 
ity/' she said, and then, leaning forward again, "What 
are you doing here?" 

"Waiting for you," repeated Clifford, slightly 
troubled. 

"And Cdcile?" 

"Now don't, Valentine-" 

"Do you know/' she said, calmly, "I dislike your 
conduct?" 

He was a little disconcerted, and rang for Eugene 
to cover his confusion. 

The soup was bisque and the wine Pommery, and 
the courses followed each other with the usual regu- 
la,rity until Eug&ne brought coffee, and there was 
nothing left on the table but a small silver lamp. 

"Valentine," said Clifford, after having obtained 
permission to smoke, " is it the Vaudeville or the El- 
dorado — or both, or the Nouveau Cirque, or — " 
It is here," said Valentine. 

Well," he said, greatly flattered, "I'm afraid I 
couldn't amuse you — " 

"Oh yes, you are funnier than the Eldorado." 

"Now see here, don't guy me, Valentine. You 
always do, and, and— you know what they say — a 
good laugh kills — " 

"What?" 

"Er— er— love and all that." 

She laughed until her eyes were moist with tears. 
"Tiens," she cried, "he is dead, then!" 

Clifford eyed her with growing alarm. 
Do you know why I came?" she said. 

223 



it 
it 



it 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



"No/' he repUed, uneasily, "I don't" 

" How long have you made love to me?" 

"Well/' he admitted, somewhat startled, "I shoidd 
say for about a year/' 

" It is a year, I think. Are you not tired?" 

He did not answer. 

" Don't you know that I like you too well to — ^to ever 
fall in love with you?" she said. "Don't you know 
that we are too good comrades — ^too old friends for 
that? And were we not — do you think that I do not 
know your history. Monsieur Clifford?" 

"Don't be — don't be so sarcastic," he urged; "don't 
be tuikind, Valentine/' 

"I'm not. I'm kind. I'm very kind — ^to you and 
to C6cile/' 

"C6cile is tired of me." 

"I hope she is," said the girl, "for she deserves a 
better fate. Tiens, do you know your reputation in 
the Quarter? Of the inconstant, the most inconstant, 
utterly incorrigible, and no more serious than a gnat 
on a smnmer night. Poor C^ilel" 

Clifford looked so uncomfortable that she spoke 
more kindly. 

"I like you. You know that. Everybody does. 
You are a spoiled child here. Everything is permitted 
you and every one makes allowance, but every one 
cannot be a victim to caprice." 

"Capricel" he cried. "By Jove, if the girls of the 
Latin Quarter are not capricious — " 

"Never mind — never mind about that! You must 
not sit in judgment — ^you of all men. Why are you 
here to-night? Oh," she cried, "I will tell you why! 
Monsieur receives a little note; he sends a little an- 
swer; he dresses in his conquering raiment—" 

"I don't," said Clifford, very red. 

"You do, and it becomes you," she retorted, with a 

224 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

faint smile. Then again, very quietly, " I am in your 
power, but I know I am in the power of a friend. I 
have come to acknowledge it to you here; and it is 
because of that that I am here to beg of you — a. — a 
favor/' 

Clifford opened his eyes but said nothing. 

"I am in — ^great distress of mind. It is Monsieur 
Hastings.'' 

" Well?" said Clifford, in some astonishment. 

"I want to ask you," she continued, in a low voice 
— ''I want to ask you to — to — in case you shotdd 
speak of me before him — not to say — not to say — " 

"I shall not speak of you to him," he said, qui- 
etly. 

"Can — can you prevent others?" 

"I might if I was present. May I ask why?" 

" That is not fair," she murmured. " You know how 
— how he considers me — ^as he considers every wom- 
an. You know how different he is from you and the 
rest. I have never seen a man — such a man as Mon- 
sieur Hastings." 

He let his cigarette go out unnoticed. 

" I am almost afraid of him — ^afraid he should know 
— ^what we all are in the Quarter. Oh, I do not wish 
him to know I I do not wish him to — ^to turn from me 
— to cease from speaking to me as he does! You — 
you and the rest cannot know what he has been to me. 
I could not believe him; I could not believe he was so 
good and — and noble. I do not wish him to know — so 
soon. He will find out — ^sooner or later, he will find 
out for himself, and then he will turn away from me. 
Why," she cried, passionately — ^"why should he turn 
from me and not from you ?" 

Clifford, much embarrassed, eyed his cigarette. 

The girl rose, very white. "He is your friend — 
you have a right to warn him." 
«5 225 



mKm ■— iiil— ^^^^^ii ' 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

"He is my friend/' he said, at length. 
They looked at each other in silence. 
Then she cried, '"By all that I hold to me most 
sacred, you need not warn him." 
"I shall trust your word," he said, pleasantly. 



V 

THE month passed quickly for Hastings, and left 
few definite impressions after it. It did leave 
some, however. One was a painful impression of 
meeting Mr. Bladen on the Boulevard des Capucines 
in company with a very pronounced young person 
whose laugh dismayed him, and when at last he es- 
caped from the cai6 where Mr. Bladen had hauled him 
to join them in a bock, he felt as if the whole boulevard 
was looking at him, and judging him by his company. 
Later, an instinctive conviction regarding the young 
person with Mr. Bladen sent the hot blood into his 
cheek, and he returned to the pension in such a mis- 
erable state of mind that Miss Byng was alarmed, and 
advised him to conquer his'homesickness at once. 

Another impression was equally vivid. One Satur- 
day morning, feeling lonely, his wanderings about the 
city brought him to the Gare St. Lazare. It was early 
for breakfast, but he entered the Hdtel Terminus and 
took a table near the window. As he wheeled about 
to give his order, a man passing rapidly along the 
aisle colUded with his head, and, looking up to receive 
the expected apology, he was met instead by a slap 
on the shoulder and a hearty, "What the deuce are you 
doing here, old chap?" It was Rowden, who seized 
him and told him to come along. So, mildly protest- 
ing, he was ushered into a private dining-room, where 
Clifford, rather red, jumped up from the table and 
welcomed him with a startled air, which was softened 

227 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

by the unaffected glee of Rowden and the extreme 
courtesy of Elliott. The latter presented him to three 
bewitching girls, who welcomed him so charmingly, 
and seconded Rowden in his demand that Hastings 
should make one of the party, that he consented at 
once. While Elliott briefly outlined the projected excur- 
sion to La Roche, Hastings delightedly ate his omelet, 
and returned the smiles of encouragement from Cdcile 
and Colette and Jacqueline. Meantime Clifford, in a 
bland whisper, was telling Rowden what an ass he 
was. Poor Rowden looked miserable until Elliott, di- 
vining how affairs were turning, frowned on Clifford, 
and found a moment to let Rowden know that they 
were all going to make the best of it. 

''You shut up," he observed to Clifford; "it's fate, 
and that settles it." 

"It's Rowden, and that settles it," murmured Clif- 
ford, concealing a grin. For, after all, he was not 
Hastings's wet nurse. So it came about that the train 
which left the Gare St. Lazare at 9.15 A.M. stopped 
a moment in its career towards Havre and deposited 
at the red-roofed station of La Roche a merry party, 
armed with sun-shades, trout-rods, and one cane, car- 
ried by the non-combatant, Hastings. Then, when 
they had established their camp in a grove of syca- 
mores which bordered the little River Ept, Clifford, 
the acknowledged master of all that pertained to sports- 
manship, took command. 

"You, Rowden," he said, "divide your flies with 
Elliott, and keep an eye on him, or else he'll be trying 
to put on a float and sinker. Prevent him by force 
from grubbing about for worms." 

Elliott protested, but was forced to smile in the gen- 
eral laugh. 

" You make me ill," he asserted. " Do you think this 
is my first trout?" 

228 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

"I shall be delighted to see ypur first trout/' said 
CHflford, and, dodging a fly-hook, hurled with intent 
to hit, proceeded to sort and equip three slender rods 
destined to bring joy and fish to Cficile, Colette, and 
Jacqueline. With perfect gravity he ornamented each 
line with four split shot, a small hook, and a brilliant 
quill float. 

" I shall never touch the worms,'' announced C6cile, 
with a shudder. 

Jacqueline and Colette hastened to sustain her, 
and Hastings pleasantly offered to act in the capacity 
of general baiter and taker -off of fish. But C6cile, 
doubtless fascinated by the gaudy flies in Clifford's 
book, decided to accept lessons from him in the true 
art, and presently disappeared up the Ept with Clif- 
ford in tow. 

Elliott looked doubtfully at Colette. 

I prefer gudgeons," said that damsel, with decision, 
and you and Monsieur Rowden may go away when 
you please; may they not, Jacqueline?" 
Certainly," responded Jacqueline. 

Elliott, undecided, examined his rod and reel. 

"You've got your red on wrong side up," observed 
Rowden. 

Elliott wavered, and stole a glance at Colette. 

"I — ^I — ^have almost decided to — er — ^not to flip the 
flies about just now," he began. " There's the pole 
that C6cile left—" 

"Don't call it a pole," corrected Rowden. 

"Rod, then," continued Elliott, and started off in 
the wake of the two girls, but was promptly collared 
by Rowden. 

"No you don't I Fancy a man fishing with a float 
and sinker, when he has a fly-rod in his hand! You 
come along!" 

Where the placid little Ept flows down between its 

229 



it 
it , 

< 

t€ 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

thickets to the Seine, a grassy bank shadows the haunt 
of the gudgeon, and on this bank sat Colette and Jacque- 
Une, and chattered and laughed and watched the swerv- 
ing of the scarlet quills, while Hastings, his hat over 
his eyes, his head on a bank of moss, listened to 
their soft voices and gallantly unhooked the small 
and indignant gudgeon when a flash of a rod and a 
half - suppressed scream announced a catch. The 
sunlight filtered through the leafy thickets, awaking 
to song the forest birds. Magpies in spotless black 
and white flitted past, alighting near by with a hop 
and bound and twitch of the tail. Blue and white 
jays with rosy breasts shrieked through the trees, and 
a low-sailing hawk wheeled among the fields of ripen- 
ing wheat, putting to flight flocks of twittering hedge- 
birds. 

Across the Seine a gull dropped on the water like a 
I plume. The air was pure and still. Scarcely a leaf 
moved. Sounds from a distant farm came faintly — 
the shrill cock-crow and dull baying. Now and then 
a steam-tug with big, raking smoke-pipe, bearing the 
name Guipe 2j, ploughed up the river, dragging its 
interminable train of barges, or a sailboat dropped 
down with the current towards sleepy Rouen. 

A faint, fresh odor of earth and water himg in the 
air, and through the sunlight orange-tipped butterflies 
danced above the marsh-grass, soft, velvety butterflies 
flapped through the mossy woods. 

Hastings was thinking of Valentine. It was two 
o'clock when Elliott strolled back, and, frankly ad- 
mitting that he had eluded Rowden, sat down beside 
Colette and prepared to doze with satisfaction. 
Where are your trout?" said Colette, iseverely. 
They still Uve," murmured Elliott, and went fast 
asleep. 

Rowden returned shortly after, and, casting a scorn- 

230 



it 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

f ul glance at the slumbering one, displayed three crim- 
son-flecked trout. 

"And that/' smiled Hastings, lazily — "that is the 
holy end to which the faithful plod — the slaughter of 
these small fish with a bit of silk and feather/' 

Rowden disdained to answer him. Colette caught 
another gudgeon and awoke Elliott, who protested and 
gazed about for the lunch - baskets as Clifford and 
Cdcile came up, demanding instant refreshment. C6- 
cile's skirts were soaked, and her gloves torn, but she 
was happy, and Chfford, dragging out a two-pound 
trout, stood still to receive the applause of the com- 
pany. 

"Where the deuce did you get that?" demanded El- 
liott. 

C6cile, wet and enthusiastic, recounted the battle, 
and then Clifford eulogized her powers with the fly, 
and, in proof, produced from his creel a defunct chub, 
which, he observed, just missed being a trout. 

They were all very merry at luncheon, and Has- 
tings was voted "charming." He enjoyed it immense- 
ly — only it seemed to him at moments that flirtation 
went further in France than in Millbrook, Connecti- 
cut, and he thought that C6cile might be a little less 
enthusiastic about Clifford ; that perhaps it would be 
quite as well if Jacqueline sat farther away from Row- 
den, and that possibly Colette could have, for a mo- 
ment, at least, taken her eyes from Elliott's face. Still 
he enjoyed it — except when his thoughts drifted to 
Valentine, and then he felt that he was very far away 
from her. La Roche is at least an hour and a half 
from Paris. It is true also that he felt a happiness, a 
quick heart-beat when, at eight o'clock that night, the 
train which bore them from La Roche rolled into the 
Gare St. Lazare, and he was once more in the city of 
Valentine. 

231 



THE KING IN YELLOW 






Good-night/' they said^ pressing around him. 

You must come with us next time I" 

He promised, and watched them, two by two, drift 
into the darkening city, and stood so long that, when 
again he raised his eyes, the vast boulevard was twin- 
kling with gas-jets through which the electric Ughts 
stared like moons. 



IT was with another quick heart-beat that he awoke 
next morning, for his j5rst thought was of Val- 
entine. 

The sun already gilded the towers of Notre Dame, 
the clatter of workmen's sabots awoke sharp echoes 
in the street below, and. across the way a blackbird in 
a pink almond-tree was going into an ecstasy of trills. 

He determined to awake CliflFord for a brisk walk 
in the country, hoping later to beguile that gentle- 
man into the American church for his soul's sake. 
He found Alfred the gimlet-eyed washing the asphalt 
walk which led to the studio. 

"Monsieur Elliott?" he replied, to the perfunctory 
inquiry, '' Je ne sais pas." 

*'And Monsieur Clifford?" began Hastings, some- 
what astonished. 

"Monsieur CliflFord," said the concierge, with fine 
irony, " will be pleased to see you, as he retired early ; 
in fact, he has just come in." 

Hastings hesitated while the concierge pronounced 
a fiery eulogy on people who never stayed out all night, 
and then came battering at the lodge-gate during hours 
which even a gendarme held sacred to sleep. He also 
discoursed eloquently upon the beauties of temper- 
ance, and took an ostentatious draught from the foun- 
tain in the court. 

I do not think I will come in," said Hastings. 
Pardon, monsieur," growled the concierge, "per- 

233 



It 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

haps it would be well to see Monsieur Clifford. He 
possibly needs aid. Me he drives forth with hair- 
brushes and boots. It is a mercy if he has not set fire 
to something with his candle."' 

Hastings hesitated for an instant^ but, swallowing 
his disUke of such a mission, walked slowly through 
the ivy-covered alley and across the inner garden to 
the studio. He knocked. Perfect silence. Then he 
knocked again, and this time something struck the 
door from within with a crash. 

"That," said the concierge, "was a boot." He 
fitted his duplicate key into the lock and ushered Has- 
tings in. Clifford, in disordered evening dress, sat on 
the rug in the middle of the room. He held in his hand 
a shoe, and did not appear astonished to see Has- 
tings. 

"Good-morning — do you use Pears' soap?" he in- 
quired, with a vague wave of his hand and a vaguer 
smile. 

Hastings's heart sank. "For Heaven's sake," he 
said, "Clifford, go to bed." 

"Not while that — that Alfred pokes his shaggy 
head in here an' I have a shoe left." 

Hastings blew out the candle, picked up Clifford's 
hat and cane, and said, with an emotion he could not 
conceal, "This is terrible, Clifford. I — never knew 
you did this sort of thing." 
Well, I do," said Clifford. 
Where is Elliott?" 
Ole chap," returned Clifford, becoming maudlin. 

Providence which feeds — feeds — er — sparrows an' 
that sort of thing watcheth over the intemperate wan- 
derer—" 

"Where is ElUott?" 

But Clifford only wagged his head and waved his 
arm about. "He's out there — somewhere about." 

234 



It 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

Then suddenly feeling a desire to see his missing chum, 
lifted up his voice and howled for him. 

Hastings, thoroughly shocked, sat down on the 
lounge without a word. Presently, after shedding sev- 
eral scalding tears, Clifford brightened up and rose 
with great precaution. 

"Ole chap," he observed, " do you want to see er — er 
miracle? Well, here goes. Fm goin' to begin.'' 

He paused, beaming at vacancy. 

''Er miracle," he repeated. 

Hastings supposed he was alluding to the miracle 
of his keeping his balance and said nothing. 

"Tm goin' to bed," he announced; "poor ole Clif- 
ford's goin' to bed, an' that's er miracle." 

And he did, with a nice calculation of distance and 
equilibrium which would have wrung enthusiastic yells 
of applause from Elliott had he been there to assist 
en connaisseur. But he was not. He had not yet 
reached the studio. He was on his way, however, 
and smiled with magnificent condescension on Has- 
tings, who, half an hour later, found him reclining 
upon a bench in the Luxembourg. He permitted 
himself to be aroused, dusted, and escorted to the gate. 
H^e, however, he refused all further assistance, and, 
bestowing a patronizing bow upon Hastings, steered 
a tolerably true course for the Rue Vavin. 

Hastings watched him out of sight, and then slowly 
retraced his steps towards the foiuitain. At first he 
felt gloomy and depressed, but gradually the clear air 
of the morning lifted the pressure from his heart, and 
he sat down on the marble seat under the shadow of 
the winged god. 

The air was fresh and sweet with perfume from the 
orange flowers. Everywhere pigeons were bathing, 
dashing the water over their iris-hued breasts, flash- 
ing in and out of the spray or nestUng almost to the 

235 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

neck along the polished basin. The sparrows, too, 
were abroad in force, soaking their dust-^colored feathers 
in the limpid pool and chirping with might and main. 
Under the sycamores which surround the duck-pond 
opposite the foimtain of Marie de M6dici the water- 
fowl cropped the herbage or waddled in rows down 
the bank to embark on some solemn, aimless cruise. 

Butterflies, somewhat lame from a chilly night's 
repose under the lilac leaves, crawled over and over 
the white phlox or took a rhetmmtic flight towards 
some sun -warmed shrub. The bees were already 
busy among the heliotrope, and one or two great, gray 
flies with brick-colored eyes sat in a spot of sunlight 
beside the marble seat, or chased each other about, 
only to return again to the spot of sunshine and rub 
their forelegs exulting. 

The sentries paced briskly before the painted boxes, 
pausing at times to look towards the guard-house for 
their relief. 

They came at last, with a shuffle of feet and click 
of bayonets, the word was passed, the relief fell out, 
and away they went, crunch, crunch, across the gravel. 

A mellow chime floated from the clock-tower of the 
palace; the deep bell of St. Sulpice echoed the stroke. 
Hastings sat dreaming in the shadow of the god, and 
while he mused somebody came and sat down beside 
him. At first he did not raise his head. It was only 
when she spoke that he sprang up. 
Youl At this hour?" 

I was restless, I could not sleep." Then in a low, 
happy voice: "And youl — ^at this hour?" 

"I — ^I slept, but the sun awoke me." 

"I could not sleep," she said; and her eyes seemed, 
for a moment, touched with an indefinable shadow. 
Then, smiling: "I am so glad; I seemed to know you 
were coming. Don't laugh, I believe in dreams." 

236 






STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 



4S 



Did you really dream of — of my being here?'' 

I think I was awake when I dreamed it/' she ad- 
mitted. Then for a time they were mute, acknowl- 
edging by silence the happiness of being together. 
And, after all, their silence was eloquent; for faint 
smiles and glances, bom of their thoughts, crossed 
and recrossed, until lips moved and words were form- 
ed which seemed almost superfluous. What they said 
was not very profound. Perhaps the most valuable 
jewel that fell from Hastings's Ups bore direct refer- 
ence to breakfast. 

I have not yet had my chocolate," she confessed; 
but what a material man you are I" 

Valentine," he said, impulsively, "I wish — I do 
wish that you would — just for this once — ^give me the 
whole day — just for this once. 

Oh, dear," she smiled, "not only material, but self- 
ish. 

Not selfish — hungry," he said, looking at her. 



it 



>ie day — jusi lor uus once." 
tt 

if 
tt 

"A cannibal, too. Oh, dear I" 
"Will you, Valentine?" 
"But my chocolate — " 
"Take it with me.'' 

tt 



But dijeuner — ^ 
Together, at St. Cloud." 
"But I can't—" 

" Together— all day— all day long. Will you, Val- 
entine?" 
She was silent. 
"Only for this once." 

Again that indefinable shadow fell across her eyes, 
and when it was gone she sighed. " Yes — together, 
only for this once." 
"All day?" he said, doubting his happiness. 
"All day," she smiled; "and, oh, I am so hungry!" 
He laughed, enchanted. 

237 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

"What a material young lady it is!" 

On the Boulevard St. Michel there is a crSmerie 
painted white and blue outside^ and neat and clean as 
a whistle inside. The auburn-haired young woman, 
who speaks French like a native, and rejoices in the 
name of Murphy, smiled at them as they entered, and, 
tossing a fresh napkin over the zinc t6te-lt-t6te table, 
whisked before them two cups of chocolate and a basket 
full of crisp, fresh croissons. 

The primrose-colored pats of butter, each stamped 
with a shamrock in relief, seemed saturated with the 
fragrance of Normandy pastures. 

"How delicious!" they said, in the same breath, and 
then laughed at the coincidence. 

"With but a single thought,'' he began. 

"How absurd!" she cried, with cheeks all rosy; "Tm 
thinking Td like a croisson." 

"So am I," he replied, triumphant; "that proves it." 

Then they had a quarrel, she accusing him of be- 
havior unworthy of a child in arms, and he denying 
it, and bringing counter -charges, until Mademoiselle 
Murphy laughed in sympathy, and the last croisson 
was eaten under a flag of truce. Then they rose, and 
she took his arm with a bright nod to Mademoiselle 
Murphy, who cried them a merry, "Bonjour, ma- 
dame! Bonjour, monsieur!" and watched them hail a 
passing cab and drive away. " Dieu! qu'il est beau," 
she sighed, adding, after a moment, " Do they be mar- 
ried, I dunno — ^ma foi, ils ont bien I'air." 

The cab swung around the Rue de M6dici, turned 
into the Rue de Vaugirard, followed it to where it crosses 
the Rue de Rennes, and, taking that noisy thorough- 
fare, drew up before the Gare Montparnasse. They 
were just in time for a train, and scampered up the 
stair-way and out to the cars as the last note from the 
starting-gong rang through the arched station. The 

238 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

giaard slammed the door of their compartment, a whis- 
tle sounded, answered by a screech from the locomo- 
tive, and the long train glided from the station, faster, 
faster, and sped out into the morning sunshine. The 
summer wind blew in their faces from the open win- 
dow, and sent the soft hair dancing on the girl's fore- 
head. 

"We have the compartment to ourselves," said 
Hastings. 

She leaned against the cushioned window-seat, her 
eyes bright and wide open, her lips psu-ted. The wind 
lifted her hat and iSluttered the ribbons under her chin. 
With a quick movement she untied them, and, drawing 
a long hat-pin from her hat, laid it down on the seat 
beside her. The train was flying. 

The color surged in her cheeks, and with each quick- 
drawn breath her breast rose and fell imder the clus- 
ter of lilies at her throat. Trees, houses, ponds danced 
past, cut by a mist of telegraph poles. 

" Faster 1 faster I" she cried. 

His eyes never left her; but hers, wide open and 
blue as the summer sky, seemed fixed on something 
far ahead — something which came no nearer, but fled 
before them as they fled. 

Was it the horizon, cut now by the grim fortress on 
the hill, now by the cross of a country chapel? Was 
it the summer moon, ghostlike, slipping through the 
vaguer blue above? 

" Faster 1 faster!'' she cried. 

Her parted lips burned scarlet 

The car shook and shivered, and the fields streamed 
by like an emerald torrent. He caught the excite- 
ment and his face glowed. 

"Oh!" she cried, and with an unconscij^us move- 
ment caught his hand, drawing him to the window 
beside her. "Look! Lean out with me!" 

239 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

He only saw her lips move; her voice was drowned 
in the roar of a trestle, but his hand closed in hers and 
he clung to the sill. The wind whistled in their ears. 
"Not so far out, Valentine. Take care!'* he gasped. 

Below, through the ties of the trestle, a broad river 
flashed into view and out again, as the train thun- 
dered along a tuiuiel, and away once more through 
the freshet of green fields. The wind roared about 
them. The girl was leaning far out from the win- 
dow, and he caught her by the waist, crying, "Not 
too far!" But she only murmured, "Faster I faster I 
Away out of the city, out of the land, faster, faster I 
Away out of the world!" 

"What are you saying all to yourself?" he said, but 
his voice was broken, and the wind whirled it back 
into his throat. 

She heard him, and, turning from the window, 
looked down at his arm about her. Then she raised 
her eyes to his. The car shook and the windows rat- 
tled. They were dashing through a forest now, and 
the sun swept the dewy branches with running flashes 
of fire. He looked into her troubled eyes; he drew 
her to him and kissed the half-parted lips, and she cried 
out, a bitter, hopeless cry, "Not that — not that!" 

But he held her close and strong, whispering words 
of honest love and passion, and when she sobbed, 
"Not that — not that — ^I have promised I You must — 
you must know — ^I am — not — ^worthy — " in the purity 
of his own heart her words were, to him, meaningless 
then, meaningless forever after. Presently her voice 
ceased, and her head rested on his breast. He leaned 
against the window, his ears swept by the furious 
wind, his heart in a joyous tumult. The forest was 
passed, and the sun slipped from behind the trees, 
flooding the earth again with brightness. She raised 
her eyes and looked out into the world from the win- 

240 



id 



fin- 
(ff! 



)ii: 




VALENTINE 



STREET OF OUR LADY OF THE FIELDS 

dow. Then she began to speak, but her voice was 
faint, and he bent his head close to hers and listened. 
"I cannot turn from you; I am too weak. You were 
long ago my master — ^master of my heart and soul. 
I have broken my word to one who trusted me, but I 
have told you all — ^what matters the rest?'' He smiled 
at her innocence and she worshipped his. She spoke 
again: "Take me or cast me away — what matters it? 
Now with a word you can kill me, and it might be 
easier to die than to look upon happiness as great as 



mine." 



He took her in his arms. ''Hush! What are you 
saying? Look — ^look out at the sunlight, the meadows, 
and the streams. We shall be very happy in so bright 
a world." 

She turned to the sunlight. From the window the 
world below seemed very fair to her. 

Trembling with happiness, she sighed : " Is this the 
world? Then I have never known it." 

"Nor have I, God forgive me," he murmured. 

Perhaps it was our gentle Lady of the Fields who 
forgave them both. 



«« 



RUE BARREE 

For let philosopher and doctor preach 

Of what they will and what they will not — each 
Is but one link in an eternal chain 

That none can slip nor break nor overreach." 



4t 



€t 



RUE BARR£E 



Crimson nor yellow roses nor 
The savor of the mounting sea 

Are worth the perfume I adore 
That clings to thee. 

The languid-headed lilies tire. 
The changeless waters weary me; 

I ache with passionate desire 
Of thine and thee. 

There are but these things in the world — 

Thy mouth of fire. 
Thy breasts, thy hands, thy hair upcurled. 

And my desire." 



ONE morning at Julian's a student said to Selby, 
"That is FoxhaU ClifiFord/' pointing with his 
brushes at a young man who sat before an easel, do- 
ing nothing. 

Sdby, shy and nervous, walked over and began: 
"My name is Selby — I have just arrived in Paris, and 
bring a letter of introduction — " His voice was lost 
in the crash of a falling easel, the owner of which 
promptly assaulted his neighbor, and for a time the 
noise of battle rolled through the studios of MM. Bou- 
langer and Lefebvre, presently subsiding into a scuffle 
on the stairs outside. Selby, apprehensive as to his 

245 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

own reception in the studio, looked at Clifford, who sat 
serenely watching the fight. 

"It's a little noisy here/' said Clifford, "but you 
will like the fellows when you know them/' His 
tmaffected manner deUghted Selby. Then, with a 
simplicity that won his heart, he presented him to half 
a dozen students of as many nationalities. Some 
were cordial, all were polite. Even the majestic creat- 
ure who held the position of mossier unbent enough 
to say: "My friend, when a man speaks French as 
well as you do, and is also a friend of Monsieur Clif- 
ford, he will have no trouble in this studio. You ex- 
pect, of course, to fill the stove imtil the next new man 
comes?" 

"Of course." 

" And you don't mind chaff?" 

" No," repUed Selby, who hated it. 

Clifford, much amused, put on his hat, saying, 
" You must expect lots of it at first." 

Selby placed his own hat on his head and followed 
him to the door. 

As he passed the model-stand there was a furious 
cry of "Chapeau! Chapeaul" and a student sprang 
from his easel, menacing Selby, who reddened but 
looked at Clifford. 

" Take off your hat for them," said the latter, laugh- 
ing. 

A little embarrassed, he turned and saluted the 
studio. 

"Et moi?" cried the model. 

"You are charming," replied Selby, astonished at 
his own audacity, but the studio rose as one man, 
shouting, "He has done well! he's all right 1" while 
the modd, laughing, kissed her hand to him and cried : 

A demain, beau jeune hommel" 

All that week Selby worked at the studio unmolested. 

246 



44 



RUE BARREE 

The French students christened him "' U Enfant Pro- 
digue," which was freely translated, "The Prodigious 
Infant/' "The Kid/' "Kid Selby/' and "Kidby/' 
But the disease soon ran its course from " Kidby " to 
"Kidney/' and then naturally to "Tidbits/' where 
it was arrested by Clifford's authority and tdtimatdy 
relapsed to "Kid." 

Wednesday came^ and with it Monsieur Boulanger. 
For three hours the students writhed under his biting 
sarcasms — among the others Clifford, who was in- 
formed that he knew even less about a work of art than 
he did about the art of work. Selby was more f ort- 
tmate. The professor examined his drawing in si- 
lence, looked at him sharply, and passed on with a 
noncommittal gesture. He presently departed arm 
in arm with Bouguereau, to the relief of Clifford, who 
was then at liberty to jam his hat on his head and de- 
part. 

The next day he did not appear, and Selby, who 
had cotmted on seeing him at the studio, a thing which 
he learned later it was vanity to cotmt on, wandered 
back to the Latin Quarter alone. 

Paris was still strange and new to him. He was 
vaguely troubled by its splendor. No tender mem- 
ories stirred his American bosom at the Place du Chftte- 
let, nor even by Notre Dame. The Palais de Justice, 
with its clock and turrets and stalking sentinels in 
blue and vermilion; the Place St. Michel, with its jum- 
ble of omnibuses and ugly water -spitting griffins; 
the hill of the Boulevard St. Michel, the tooting trams, 
the policemen dawdling two by two, and the table-lined 
terraces of the Caf 6 Vachette, were nothing to him as 
yet, nor did he even know, when he stepped from the 
stones of the Place St Michel to the asphalt of the 
boidevard, that he had crossed the frontier and en- 
tered the student zone — ^the famous Latin Quarter. 

247 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

A cabman hailed him as bourgeois, and urged the 
superiority of driving over walking. A gamin, with 
an appearance of great concern, requested the latest 
telegraphic news from London, and then, standing on 
his head, invited Selby to feats of strength. A pretty 
girl gave him a glance from a pair of violet eyes. He 
did not see her, but she, catching her own reflection 
in a window, wondered at the color burning in her 
cheeks. Turning to resume her course, she met Foxhall 
Clifford, and hurried on. Clifford, open-mouthed, fol- 
lowed her with his eyes; then he looked after Sdby, 
who had turned into the Boulevard St. Germain, tow- 
ards the Rue de Seine. Then he examined himself 
in the shop-window. The result seemed to be satis- 
factory. 

"I'm not a beauty," he mused, "but neither am I 
a hobgoblin. What does she mean by blushing at 
Selby? I never before saw her look at a fellow in my 
life — neither has any one in the Quarter. Anyway, 
I can swear she never looks at me, and goodness knows 
I have done all that respectful adoration can do.'' 

He sighed, and, murmuring a prophecy concerning 
the salvation of his immortal soul, swung into that 
graceful lounge which at all times characterized Clif- 
ford. With no apparent exertion, he overtook Selby 
at the comer, and together they crossed the sunlit 
boulevard and sat down tmder the awning of the Csd€ 
du Cercle. Clifford bowed to everybody on the ter- 
race, saying, " You shall meet them all later, but now 
let me present you to two of the sights of Paris, Mr. 
Richard Elliott and Mr. Stanley Rowden." 

The "sights" looked amiable, and took vermouth. 

"You cut the studio to-day," said Elliott, suddenly 
turning on Clifford, who avoided his eyes. 

"To conmiune with nature?" observed Rowden. 

"What's her name this time?" asked Elliott;; and 

248 



RUE BARRfiE 

Rowden answered, promptly : " Name, Yvette ; nation- 
ality, Breton — " 

" Wrong," replied Clifford, blandly. " It's Rue Bar- 
r6e." 

The subject changed instantly, and Selby listened 
in surprise to names which were new to him, and eulo- 
gies on the latest Prix de Rome winner. He was de- 
lighted to hear opinions boldly expressed and points 
honestly debated, although the vehicle was mostly 
slang, both English and French. He longed for the 
time when he, too, should be plunged into the strife 
for fame. 

The bells of St. Sulpice struck the hour, and the 
palace of the Luxembourg answered chime on chime. 
With a glance at the sun, dipping low in the golden 
dust behind the Palais Bourbon, they rose, and, turn- 
ing to the east, crossed the ^Boulevard St. Germain 
and sauntered towards the Ecole de M6decine. At 
the corner a girl passed them, walking hurriedly. Clif- 
ford smirked, Elliott and Rowden were agitated, but 
they all bowed, and, without raising her eyes, she re- 
turned their salute. But Selby, who had lagged be- 
hind, fascinated by some gay shop -window, looked 
up to meet two of the bluest eyes he had ever seen. 
The eyes were dropped in an instant, and the young 
fellow hastened to overtake the others. 

"By Jove I'' he said, "do you fellows know I have 
just seen the prettiest girl — " 

An exclamation broke from the trio, gloomy« fore- 
boding, like the chorus in a Greek play: 

"Rue Barr6e.'' 

"What!" cried Sdby. bewildered. 

The only answer was a vague gesture from Clifford. 

Two hours later, during dinner, Clifford turned to 
Selby and said : " You want to ask me something ; I 
can tell by the way you fidget about. " 

249 



THE KING IN YELLOW 



'' Yes, I do/' he said, innocently enough ; '" it's about 
that girl. Who is she?" 

In Rowden's smile there was pity; in EUiott's, bit- 
terness. 

"Her name/' said Cliflford, solemnly, "is unknown 
to any one — ^at least/' he added, with mudi conscien- 
tiousness, " as far as I can learn. Every fellow in the 
Quarter bows to her and she returns the salute gravely, 
but no man has ever been known to obtain more than 
thai Her profession, judging from her music-roU, 
is that of a pianist. Her residence is in a small and 
htmible street which is kept in a perpetual process of 
repair by the city authorities, and from the black let- 
ters painted on the barrier which defends the street 
from traffic she has taken the name by which we know 
her - Rue Barrte. Mr. Rowden. in his imperfect 
knowledge of the French tongue, called our attention 
to it as Roo Barry — " 

"I didn't," said Rowden, hotly. 

" And Roo Barry, or Rue Barr£e, is to-day an object 
of adoration to every rapin in the Quarter-" 

"We are not rapins," corrected Elliott. 

"I am not," returned ClifiFord, "and I beg to call to 
your attention, Sdby, that these two gentlemen have, 
at various and apparently unfortunate moments, 
offered to lay down life and limb at the feet of Rue 
Barr£e. The lady possesses a chilling smile which 
she uses on such occasions, and " — ^here he became 
gloomily impressive — ^"I have been forced to believe 
that neither the scholarly grace of my friend Elliott 
nor the buxom beauty of my friend Rowden have 
touched that heart of ice." 

Elliott and Rowden, boiling with indignation, cried 
out, "And you!" 

"I," said Clifford, blandly, "do fear to tread where 
you rush in." 

250 



II 

TWENTY-FOUR hours later Sdby had completely 
forgotten Rue Barr6e. During the week he work- 
ed with might and main at the studio^ and Saturday 
night found him so tired that he went to bed before 
dinner and had a nightmare about a river of yellow 
ochre in which he was drowning. Sunday morning, 
apropos of nothing at all, he thought of Rue Barr^e, 
and ten seconds afterwards he saw her. It was at the 
flower-market on the marble bridge. She was exam- 
ining a pot of pansies. The gardener had evidently 
thrown heart and soul into the transaction, but Rue 
Barr£e shook her head. 

It is a question whether Selby would have stopped 
then and there to inspect a cabbage-rose had not Clif- 
ford unwound for him the yam of the previous Tues- 
day. It is possible that his curiosity was piqued, for 
with the exception of a hen-turkey, a boy of nineteen 
is the most openly curious biped aUve. From twenty 
until death he tries to conceal it. But, to be fair to 
Sdby, it is also true that the market was attractive. 
Under a cloudless sky the flowers were packed and 
heaped along the marble bridge to the parapet. The 
air was soft, the stm sptm a shadowy lacework among 
the palms and glowed in the hearts of a thousand roses. 
Spring had come — ^was full in tide. The watering- 
carts and sprinklers spread freshness over the boule- 
vard, the sparrows had become vulgarly obtrusive, and 
the credulous Seine angler anxiously followed his 

251 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

gaudy quill, floating among the soapsuds of the lavoirs. 
The white-spiked chestnuts, clad in tender green, vi- 
brated with the hum of bees. Shoddy butterflies fliatmt- 
ed their winter rags among the heliotrope. There was 
a smell of fresh earth in the air, an echo of the wood- 
land brook in the ripple of the Seine, and swallows 
soared and skimmed among the anchored river craft 
Somewhere in a window a caged bird was singing its 
heart out to the sky. 

Selby looked at the cabbage-rose and then at the sky. 
Something in the song of the caged bird may have 
moved him, or perhaps it was that dangerous sweet- 
ness in the air of May. 

At first he was hardly conscious that he had stopped, 
then he was scarcely conscious why he had stopped, 
then he thought he would move on, then he thought 
he wouldn't, then he looked at Rue BarrSe. 

The gardener said : " Mademoiselle, this is tmdoubt- 
edly a fine pot of pansies.'' 

Rue Barr£e shook her head. 

The gardener smiled. She evidently did not want 
the pansies. She had bought many pots of pansies 
there, two or three every spring, and never argued. 
What did she want, then? The pansies were evi- 
dently a feeler towards a more important transac- 
tion. The gardener rubbed his hands and gazed about 
him. 

"These tulips are magnificent,'" he observed, "and 
these hyacinths — " He fell into a trance at the mere 
sight of the scented thickets. 

"That,'' murmured Rue, pointing to a splendid 
rose-bush with her furled parasol, but, in spite of her, 
her voice trembled a little. Selby noticed it, more 
shame to him that he was listening, and the gardener 
noticed it, and, burying his nose in the roses, scented 
a bargain. Still, to do him justice, he did not add a 

252 



RUE BARREE 

centime to the honest value of the plant, for, after all. 
Rue was probably poor, and any one could see she 
was charming. 

"Fifty francs, mademoisella" 

The gardener's tone was grave. Rue felt that ar- 
gtmient would be wasted. They both stood silent for 
a moment The gardener did not eulogize his prize 
— the rose-tree was gorgeous, and any one could 
see it 

"I will take the pansies,'' said the girL and drew 
two francs from a worn purse. Then she looked up. 
A tear-drop stood in the way, refracting the Ught like 
a diamond, but as it rolled into a httle corner by her 
nose a vision of Selby replaced it, and when a brush 
of the handkerchief had cleared the startled blue eyes 
Selby himself appeared, very much embarrassed. 
He instantly looked up into the sky, apparently de- 
voured with a thirst for astronomical research, and, as 
he continued his investigations for fully five minutes, 
the gardener looked up, too, and so did a poUceman. 
Then Selby looked at the tips of his boots, the gar- 
dener looked at him, and the policeman slouched on. 
Rue Barr6e had been gone some time. 

"What," said the gardener, "may I offer, mon- 
sieur?'' 

Selby never knew why, but he suddenly began to buy 
flowers. The gardener was electrified. Never before 
had he sold so many flowers; never at such satisfying 
prices, and never, never, with such absolute unanimity 
of opinion with a customer. But he missed the bar- 
gaining, the arguing, the calling of Heaven to witness. 
The transaction lacked spice. 

"These tulips are magnificent!" 

''They arel" cried Selby, warmly. 

"But, alas! they are dear." 

"I wiU take them." 

253 



44 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

''Dieu!'' munnured the gardener, in a perspiration. 
''He's madder than most Englishmen/' 

" This cactus—" 

"Is gorgeous!" 

"Alas—" 

"Send it with the rest." 

The gardener braced himself against the river wall. 
That splendid rose-bush," he began, faintly. 
That is a beauty. I believe it is fifty francs — " 
He stopped, very red. The gardener relished his 
confusion. Then a sudden, cool self-possession took 
the place of his momentary confusion, and he held the 
gardener with his eye and bullied him. 

"I'll take that bush. Why did not the young lady 
buy it?" 

"Mademoiselle is not wealthy." 

"How do you know?" 

"Dame, I sell her many pansies; pansies are not 
expensive." 

"Those are the pansies she bought?" 

"These, monsieur, the blue and gold." 

"Then you intend to send them to her?" 

"At mid-day, after the market." 

"Take this rose-bush with them, and" — ^here he 
glared at the gardener — "don't you dare say from 
whom they came." The gardener's eyes were like 
saucers, but Selby, calm and victorious, said: "Send 
the others to the Hdtel du S6nat, 7 Rue de Toumon. 
I will leave directions with the concierge." 

Then he buttoned his glove with much dignity and 
stalked off, but when well around the comer and hid- 
den from the gardener's view the conviction that he 
was an idiot came home to him in a furious blush. 
Ten minutes later he sat in his room in the Hdtel du 
S6nat, repeating with an imbecile smile: "What an 
ass I am — what an ass!" 

254 



RUE BARREE 

An hour later found him in the same chair, in the 
same position, his hat and gloves still on, his stick 
in his hand; but he was silent, apparently lost in con- 
templation of his boot toes, and his smile was less im- 
becile and even a bit retrospective. 



m 

A BOUT five o'clock that afternoon the little, sad- 
/\ eyed woman who fills the position of concierge 
at the Hdtel du S^nat held up her hands in amaze- 
ment to see a wagon-load of flower-bearing shrubs 
draw up before the door-way. She called Joseph, the 
intemperate gargon, who, while calculating the value 
of the flowers in petits verres, gloomily disclaimed any 
knowledge as to their destination. 

"Voyons," said the little concierge, "cherchons la 
femmel'' 

"You?" he suggested. 

The little woman stood a moment pensive and then 
sighed. Joseph caressed his nose, a nose which for 
gaudiness could vie with any floral display. 

Then the gardener came in, hat in hand, and a few 
minutes later Selby stood in the middle of his room, 
his coat off, his shirt-sleeves rolled up. The chamber 
originally contained, besides the furniture, about two 
square feet of walking-room, and now this was occu- 
pied by a cactus. The bed groaned under crates of 
pansies, lilies, and heliotrope, the lounge was covered 
with hyacinths and tuUps, and the washstand sup- 
ported a species of young tree warranted to bear flow- 
ers at some time or other. 

Clifford came in a little later, fell over a box of sweet- 
peas, swore a Uttle, apologized, and then, as the full 
splendor of the floral fdte burst upon him, sat down in 
astonishment upon a geranium. The geranium was 

256 



it 
ft 



RUE BARREE 

a wreck, but Selby said, "Don't mind," and glared at 
the cactus. 

"Are you going to give a ball?" demanded CliflEord. 

"N — no — ^I'm very fond of flowers," said Selby, but 
the statement lacked enthusiasm. 

I should imagine so." Then, after a silence. 
That's a fine cactus." 

Selby contemplated the cactus, touched it with the 
air of a connaisseur, and pricked his thumb. 

Clifford poked a pansy with his stick. Then Joseph 
csmie in with the bill, announcing the sum total in a 
loud voice, partly to impress Clifford, partly to intimi- 
date Selby into disgorging a pourboire which he would 
share, if he chose, with the gardener. Clifford tried 
to pretend that he had not heard, while Selby paid bill 
and tribute without a murmur. Then he lounged 
back into the room with an attempt at indifference, 
which failed entirely when he tore his trousers on the 
cactus. 

Qifford made some commonplace remark, lighted a 
cigarette, and looked out of the window to give Selby 
a chance. Selby tried to take it, but, getting as far as, 
"Yes, spring is here at last," froze solid. He looked 
at the back of Clifford's head. It expressed voltmies. 
Those little, perked-up ears seemed tingling with sup- 
pressed glee. He made a desperate effort to master 
the situation, and jumped up to reach for some Rus- 
sian cigarettes as an incentive to conversation, but was 
foiled by the cactus, to whom again he fell a prey. The 
last straw was added. 

"Damn the cactus!" This observation was wrung 
from Selby against his will — ^against his own instinct 
of self-preservation, but the thorns on the cactus were 
long and sharp, and at their repeated prick his pent- 
up wrath escaped. It was too late now; it was done, 
and Clifford had wheeled around. 
.7 257 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

" See here, Selby, why the deuce did you buy these 
flowers?" ' 

"I'm fond of them/' said Sdby. 

"What are you going to do with them? You can't 
sleep here." 

"I could, if you'd help me take the pansies off the 
bed." 

" Where can you put them?" 

" Couldn't I give them to the concierge?" 

As soon as he said it he regretted it. What in Heav- 
en's name would Qiff ord think of him I He had heard 
the amoimt of the bill. Would he believe that he had 
invested in these luxuries as a timid declaration to his 
concierge? And would the Latin Quarter comment 
upon it in their own brutal fashion? He dreaded ridi- 
cule, and he knew Clifford's reputation. 

Then somebody knocked. 

Selby looked at Clifford with a hunted expression 
which touched that yoimg man's heart. It was a con- 
fession, and at the same time a supplication. Clif- 
ford jumped up, threaded his way through the floral 
labyrinth, and, putting an eye to the crack of the door, 
said, "Who the devil is it?" 

This graceful style of reception is indigenous to the 
Quarter. 

"It's Elliott," he said, looking back, "and Rowden, 
too, and their bull-dogs." Then he addressed them 
through the crack. 

"Sit down on the stairs; Selby and I are coming 
out directly." 

Discretion is a virtue. The Latin Quarter possesses 
few, and discretion seldom figures on the list. They 
sat down and began to whistle. 

Presently Rowden called out, " I smell flowers. They 
feast within!" 

" You ought to know Selby better than that," growled 

258 



tt 
tt 



RUE BARRfiE 

Clifford, behind the door, while the other hurriedly ex- 
changed his torn trousers for others. 

We know Selby/' said Elliott, with emphasis. 
Yes/' said Rowden, " he gives receptions with floral 
decorations and invites Clifford, while we sit on the 
stairs." 

"Yes, while the youth and beauty of the Quarter 
revel," suggested Rowden; then, with sudden mis- 
giving, "Is Odette there?" 

"See here," demanded Elliott, "is Colette there?" 

Then he raised his voice in a plaintive howl, " Are 
you there, Colette, while Tm kicking my heels on these 
tiles?" 

"Clifford is capable of anything," said Rowden; 
"his nature is soured since Rue Barrte sat on him." 

Elliott raised his voice: "I say, you fellows, we saw 
some flowers carried into Rue Barrfie's house at noon." 
Posies and roses/' specified Rowden. 
Probably for her," added Elliott, caressing his bull- 
dog. 

Clifford turned with sudden suspicion upon Selby. 
The latter htmmied a tune, selected a pair of gloves, 
and, choosing a dozen cigarettes, placed them in a 
case. Then walking over to the cactus, he deUber- 
ately detached a blossom, drew it through his button- 
hole, and, picking up hat and stick, smiled upon Clif- 
ford, at which the latter was mightily troubled. 






IV 

MONDAY morning, at Julian's, students fought 
for places; students with prior claims drove 
away others who had been anxiously squatting on 
coveted taborets since the door was opened, in hopes 
of appropriating them at roll-call; students squabbled 
over palettes, brushes, portfohos, or rent the air with 
demands for Ciceri and bread. The former, a dirty 
ex-model, who had in palmier days, posed as Judas, 
now dispensed stale bread at one sou, and made enough 
to keep himself in cigarettes. Monsieur Julian walked 
in, smiled a fatherly smile, and walked out. His dis- 
appearance was followed by the apparition of the clerk, 
a foxy creature who flitted through the battling hordes 
in search of prey. 

Three men who had not paid dues were caught and 
summoned. A fourth was scented, followed, out- 
flanked, his retreat towards the door cut off, and final- 
ly captured behind the stove. About that time, the 
revolution assuming an acute form, howls rose for 
"JulesI" 

Jules came, lunpired two fights with a sad resigna- 
tion in his big, brown eyes, shook hands with every- 
body, and melted away in the throng, leaving an at- 
mosphere of peace and good-will. The Uons sat down 
with the lambs, the massiers marked the best places 
for themselves and friends, and, mounting the model- 
stands, opened the roll-calls. 

The word was passed," They begin with C this week. '' 

260 



RUE BARREE 

They did. 

"Clisson!" 

Qisson jumped like a flash and marked his name 
on the floor in chalk before a front seat. 

"CaronI" 

Caron galloped away to secure his place. Bang I 
went an easel. "Nom de Dieul" in French — ^'^ Where 
in hell are you goinM" in English. Crash I a paint- 
box fell with brushes and all on board. ''Dieu de 
Dieu de — " Spat! A blow, a short rush, a clinch and 
scu£Be, and the voice of the tnassier, stern and reproach- 
ful: 

"CochonI" 

Then the roll-call was resumed. 

"ChffordI" 

The mossier paused and looked up, one finger be- 
tween the leaves of the ledger. 

"Clifford!" 

Clifford was not there. He was about three miles 
away in a direct line, and every instant increased the 
distance. Not that he was walking fast — on the con- 
trary, he was stroUing with that leisurely gait pecul- 
iar to himself. EUiott was beside him and two bull- 
dogs covered the rear. Elliott was reading the Gil 
Bias, from which he seemed to extract amusement, 
but, deeming boisterous mirth unsuitable to Clifford's 
state of mind, subdued his amusement to a series of 
discreet smiles. The latter, moodily aware of this, 
said nothing, but, leading the way into the Luxem- 
bourg Gardens, installed himself upon a bench by the 
northern terrace and surveyed the landscape with dis- 
favor. Elliott, according to the Luxembourg regu- 
lations, tied the two dogs, and then, with an interroga- 
tive glance towards his friend, resumed the Gil Bias 
and the discreet smiles. 

The day was perfect. The sun hung over Notre 

261 






THE KING IN YELLOW 

Dame, setting the city in a glitter. The tender foliage 
of the chestnuts cast a shadow over the terrace and 
flecked the paths and walks with tracery so blue that 
Clifford might here have found encouragement for 
his violent ''impressions'' had he but looked; but, as 
usual in this period of his career, his thoughts were 
anywhere except in his profession. Around about, 
the sparrows quarrelled and chattered their courtship 
songs, the big, rosy pigeons sailed from tree to tree, 
the flies whirled in the sunbeams, and the flowers 
exhaled a thousand perfumes which stirred Clifford 
with languorous wistf ulness. Under this influence he 
spoke. 

Elliott, you are a true friend — " 
You make me ill," replied the latter, folding his 
paper. "It's just as I thought — ^you are tagging 
after some new petticoat again. And, "he continued, 
wrathf ully, " if ttiis is what you've kept me away from 
Julian's for — if it's to fill me up with the perfections 
of some little idiot — " 

Not idiot," remonstrated CUfford, gently. 
See here," cried Elliott, "have you the nerve to 
try to tell me that you are in love again?" 

''Again?" 

"Yes, again and again and again and — ^by George, 
have you?" 

"This," observed Clifford, sadly, "is serious." 

For a moment Elliott would have laid hands on him, 
then he laughed from sheer helplessness. " Oh, go on, 
go on; let's see — there's C16mence, and Marie Tellec, 
and Cosette, and Fifine, Colette, Marie Verdier — " 
All of whom are charming, most charming, but I 



it 

4t 



never was serious — 



So help me, Moses!" said Elliott, solemnly. "Each 
and every one of those named have separately and 
in turn torn your heart with anguish, and have also 

262 



RUE BARREE 

made me lose my place at Julian's in this same man- 
ner; each and every one, separately and in turn. Do 
you deny it?" 

" What you say may be founded on facts — ^in a way 
— ^but give me the credit of being faithful to one at a 
time—" 

"Until the next came along." 

" But this — ^this is really very different. Elliott be- 
lieve me, I am all broken up." 

Then, there being nothing else to do, Elliott gnashed 
his teeth and listened. 

"It's— it's Rue Barr6e." 

"Well," observed Elliott, with scorn, "if you are 
moping and moaning over that girl — the girl who has 
given you and myself every reason to wish that the 
ground would open and ingulf us — well, go on!" 

"I'm going on — ^I don't care; timidity has fled — " 
Yes, your native timidity." 

I'm desperate, Elliott. Am I in love? Never, never 
did I feel so damned miserable. I can't sleep ; honestly, 
I'm incapable of eating properly." 

"Same symptoms noticed in the case of Colette." 

"Listen, will you?'* 

" Hold on a moment, I know the rest by heart. Now 
let me ask you something. Is it your belief that Rue 
Barr6e is a pure girl?" 

Yes," said Clifford, turning red. 
Do you love her — not as you dangle and tiptoe 
after every pretty inanity — ^I mean, do you honestly 
love her?" 

Yes," said the other, doggedly. "I would — " 
Hold on a moment; would you marry her?" 

CUfford turned scarlei "Yes," he muttered. 

"Pleasant news for your family I" growled EUiott, 
in suppressed fury. " ' Dear father, I have just mar- 
ried a charming grisette, whom I'm sure you'll wel- 

263 



tt 



It 
t€ 



tt 
tt 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

come with open arms, in company with her mother, 
a most estimable and cleanly washlady. ' Good heav- 
ens! This seems to have gone a little further than 
the rest Thank your stars, yoimg man, that my 
head is level enough for us both. Still, in this case 
I have no fear. Rue Barrte sat on your aspirations 
in a manner unmistakably final.'' 

"Rue Barrfie," began Clifford, drawing himself up, 
but he suddenly ceased, for there where the dappled 
sunUght glowed in spots of gold, along the sun-flecked 
path, tripped Rue Barr6e. Her gown was spotless, 
and her big straw hat, tipped a little from the white 
forehead, threw a shadow across her eyes. 

ElUott stood up and bowed. Clifford removed his 
head-covering wiUi an air so plaintive, so appealing, 
so utterly humble that Rue Barrde smiled. 

The smile was deUcious, and when Clifford, inca- 
pable of sustaining, himself on his legs from sheer 
astonishment, toppled slightly, she smiled again in 
spite of herself. A few moments later she took a chair 
on the terrace, and, drawing a book from her music- 
roll, turned the pages, found the place, and then, plac- 
ing it open downward in her lap, sighed a little, smiled 
a little, and looked out over the city. She had en- 
tirely forgotten Foxhall Clifford. 

After a while she took up her book again, but, in- 
stead of reading, began to adjust a rose in her corsage. 
The rose was big and red. It glowed Uke fire there 
over her heart, and like fire it warmed her heart, now 
fluttering under the silken petals. Rue Barr6e sighed 
again. She was very happy. The sky was so blue, 
the air so soft and perfumed, the sunshine so caressing, 
and her heart sang within her, sang to the rose in her 
breast. This is what it sang : " Out of the throng of 
passers-by, out of the world of yesterday, out of the 
millions passing, one has turned aside to me." 

264 



RUE BARREE 

So her heart sang under his rose on her breast. Then 
two big, mouse-colored pigeons came whistling by and 
alighted on the terrace, where they bowed and strutted 
and bobbed and turned until Rue Barr6e laughed in 
delight, and, looking up, beheld Clifford before her. 
His hat^was in his hand, and his face was wreathed in 
a series of appealing smiles which would have touched 
the heart of a Bengal tiger. 

For an instant Rue Barr6e frowned, then she looked 
curiously at Clifford; then, when she saw the resem- 
blance between his bows and the bobbing pigeons, 
in spite of herself her lips parted in the most bewitch- 
ing laugh. Was this Rue Barr6e? So changed — so 
changed that she did not know herself; but, oh I that 
song in her heart which drowned all else, which trem- 
bled on her lips, struggling for utterance, which rip- 
pled forth in a laugh at nothing — ^at a strutting pigeon 
— ^and Mr. Clifford. 

"And you think because I return the salute of the 
students in the Quarter that you may be received in 
particular as a friend? I do not know you, monsieur, 
but vanity is man's other name; be content. Monsieur 
Vanity, I shall be punctilious — oh, most punctilious 
— in returning your salute." 

" But I beg — ^I implore you to let me render you that 
homage which has so long — " 

"Oh, dear, I don't care for homage." 

" Let me only be permitted to speak to you now and 
then — occasionally — very occasionally. ' ' 

"And if you, why not another?" 

"Not at all— I will be discretion itself." 

" Discretion — why?" 

Her eyes were very clear, and Clifford winced for 
a moment, but only for a moment. Then, the devil 
of recklessness seizing him, he sat down and offered 

265 



ti 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

himself, soul and body, goods and chattels. And all 
the time he knew he was a fool, and that infatuation 
is not love, and that each word he uttered bound him 
in honor from which there was no escape. And all 
the time EUiott was scowling down on the fountain 
plaza, and savagely checking both bull-dogs from 
their desire to rush to Clifford's rescue — ^for even they 
felt there was something wrong, as EUiott stormed 
within himself and growled maledictions. 

When Clifford finished, he finished in a glow of ex- 
citement; but Rue Barr6e's response was long in com- 
ing, and his ardor cooled while the situation slowly 
assumed its just proportions. Then regret began to 
creep in, but he put that aside and broke out again in 
protestations. At the first word Rue Barr£e checkedhim. 
I thank you," she said, speaking very gravely. 

No man has ever before offered me marriage." She 
turned and looked out over the city. After a while 
she spoke again. " You offer me a great deal. I am 
alone, I have nothing, I am nothing." She turned 
again and looked at Paris, brilliant, fair, in the sun- 
shine of a perfect day. He followed her eyes. 

"Oh," she murmured, "it is hard — hard to work 
always — ^always alone, with never a friend you can 
have in honor, and the love that is offered means the 
streets, the boulevard — ^when passion is dead. I know 
it — we know it — ^we others who have nothing — ^have 
no one, and who give ourselves, imquestioning* — 
when we love — yes, unquestioning — ^heart and soul, 
knowing the end." 

She touched the rose at her breast. For a moment 
she seemed to forget him, then, quietly, "I thank 
you, I am very grateful." She opened the book and, 
plucking a petal from the rose, dropped it between the 
leaves. Then, looking up, she said, gently, " I cannot 
accept." 

266 



IT took Clifford a month to entirely recover, although 
at the end of the first week he was pronounced con- 
valescent by Elliott, who was an authority, and his 
convalescence was aided by the cordiaUty with which 
Rue Barrde acknowledged his solemn salutes. Forty 
times a day he blessed Rue Barr6e for her refusal and 
thanked his lucky stars, and at the same time — oh, 
wondrous heart of ours I — ^he suffered the tortures of the 
blighted. 

Elliott was annoyed, partly by Clifford's reticence, 
partly by the unexplainable thaw in the frigidity of 
Rue Barr6e. At their frequent encounters, when she, 
tripping along the Rue de Seine, with music-roll and 
big straw hat, would pass Clifford and his familiars 
steering an easterly course to the Caf 6 Vachette, and 
at the respectful uncovering of the band would color 
and smile at Clifford, ElUott's slumbering suspicions 
awoke. But he never found out anything, and finally 
gave it up as beyond his comprehension, merely qual- 
ifying Clifford as an idiot and reserving his opinion 
of Rue Barrfie. And all this time Selby was jealous. 
At first he refused to acknowledge it to himself, and 
cut the studio for a day in the country, but the woods 
and fields, of course, aggravated his case, and the 
brooks babbled of Rue Barrde, and the mowers calling 
to each other across the meadow ended in a quavering 
" Rue Bar-rde-e ! " That day spent in the country made 
him angry for a week, and he worked sidkily at Ju- 

267 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

lian's, all the time tormented by a desire to know where 
Clifford was and what he might be doing. This cul- 
minated in an erratic stroll on Sunday which ended 
at the filower-market on the Pont du Change, began 
again, was gloomily extended to the morgue, and 
again ended at the marble bridge. It would never 
do, and Selby felt it; so he went to see Clifford, who 
was convalescing on mint-jideps in his garden. 

They sat down together and discussed morals and 
human happiness, and each found the other most en- 
tertaining, only Selby failed to pump Clifford, to the 
other's unfeigned smiusement. But the jideps spread 
balm on the sting of jealousy and trickled hope to the 
blighted; and when Selby said he must go, Clifford 
went, too; and when Selby, not to be outdone, insisted 
on accompanying Clifford back to his door, Clifford 
determined to see Selby back half-way ; and then, find- 
ing it hard to part, they decided to dine together and 
"flit." To flit, a verb applied to Clifford's nocturnal 
prowls, expressed, perhaps, as well as anything, the 
gayety proposed. Dinner was ordered at Mignon's, 
and while Selby interviewed the chef, Clifford kept a 
fatherly eye on the butler. The dinner was a success, 
or was of the sort generally termed a success. Towards 
the dessert Selby heard some one say, as at a great 
distance, "Kid Selby, drunk as a lord." 

A group of men passed near them; it seemed to him 
that he shook hands and laughed a great deal, and 
that everybody was very witty. There was Clifford 
opposite, swearing undying confidence in his chtun 
Selby, and there seemed to be others there, either seat- 
ed beside them or continually passing with the swish 
of skirts on the polished floor. The perf tune of roses, 
the rustle of fans, the touch of rounded arms, and the 
laughter grew vaguer and vaguer. The room seemed 
enveloped in mist. Then, all in a moment, each ob- 

268 



RUE BARREE 

ject stood out painf tilly distinct, only forms and vis- 
ages were distorted and voices piercing. He drew 
himself up, calm, grave, for the moment master of him- 
self, but very drunk. He knew he was dnmk, and 
was as guarded and alert, as keenly suspicious of him- 
self as he would have been of a thief at his elbow. His 
self-command enabled Clifford to hold his head safely 
under some running water, and repair to the street con- 
siderably the worse for wear, but never suspecting that 
his companion was drunk. For a time he kept his self- 
command. His face was only a bit paler, a bit tighter 
than usual; he was only a trifle slower and more fas- 
tidious in his speech. It was midnight when he left 
Clifford peacefully sliunbering in somebody's arm- 
chair, with a long SuMe glove dangling in his hand 
and a plimiy boa twisted about his neck to protect his 
throat from draughts. He walked through the hall and 
down the stairs, and found himself on the sidewalk 
in a quarter he did not know. Mechanically he looked 
up at the name of the street. The name was not fa- 
miliar. He turned and steered his course towards 
some lights clustered at the end of the street. They 
proved farther away than he had anticipated, and after 
a long quest he came to the conclusion that his eyes 
had been mysteriously removed from their proper 
places and had been reset on either side of his head 
like those of a bird. It grieved him to think of the 
inconvenience this transformation might occasion 
him, and he attempted to cock up his head, hen -like, 
to test the mobility of his neck. Then an immense 
despair stole over him — tears gathered in the tear- 
ducts, his heart melted, and he coUided with a tree. 
This shocked him into comprehension; he stifled the 
violent tenderness in his breast, picked up his hat, and 
moved on more briskly. His mouth was white and 
drawn, his teeth tightly clinched. He held his course 

269 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

in-etty well and strayed but little, and after an appar- 
ently interminable length of time found himself pass- 
ing a line of cabs. The brilliant lamps, red, yellow, 
and green, annoyed him, and he felt it might be pleas- 
ant to demolish them with his cane, but, mastering 
this impulse, he passed on. Later an idea struck him 
that it woidd save fatigue to take a cab, and he started 
back with that intention, but the cabs seemed already 
so far away and the lanterns were so bright and con- 
fusing that he gave it up, and, puUing himself together, 
looked around. 

A shadow, a mass, huge, undefined, rose to his 
right. He recognized the Arc de Triomphe, and grave- 
ly shook his cane at it. Its size annoyed him. He 
felt it was too big. Then he heard something fall 
clattering to the pavement, and thought probably it 
was his cane, but it didn't much matter. When he 
had mastered himself and regained control of his right 
leg, whidi betrayed symptoms of insubordination, he 
foimd himself traversing the Place de la Concorde at 
a pace which threatened to land him at the Madeleine. 
This would never do. He turned sharply to the right, 
and, crossing the bridge, passed the Palais Bourbon 
at a trot and wheeled into the Boidevard St. Germain. 
He got on well enough, although the size of the War 
Office struck him as a personal insult, and he missed 
his cane, which it woidd have been pleasant to drag 
along the iron railings as he passed. It occurred to 
him, however, to substitute his hat, but when he found 
it he forgot what he wanted it for, and replaced it upon 
his head with gravity. Then he was obliged to battle 
with a violent inclination to sit down and weep. This 
lasted until he came to the Rue de Rennes, but there 
he became absorbed in contemplating the dragon on 
the balcony overhanging the Cour de Dragon, and 
time slipped away until he remembered vaguely that 

270 



RUE BARREE 

he had no business there and marched off again. It 
was slow work. The inclination to sit down and weep 
had given place to a desire for solitary and deep re- 
flection. Here his right leg forgot its obedience, and, 
attacking the left, outflanked it, and brought him up 
against a wooden board which seemed to bar his path. 
He tried to walk around it, but found the street closed. 
He tried to push it over and found he couldn't. Then 
he noticed a red lantern standing on a pile of paving- 
stones inside the barrier. This was pleasant. How 
was he to get home if the boulevard was blocked? But 
he was not on the boulevard. His treacherous right 
leg had beguiled him into a d6tour, for there behind 
him lay the boulevard with its endless line of lamps — 
and here, what was this narrow, dilapidated street 
piled up with earth and mortar and heaps of stone? 
He looked up. Written in staring black letters on the 
barrier was 

Rub Barrbb. 

He sat down. Two poUcemen whom he knew came 
by and advised him to get up, but he argued the ques- 
tion from a standpoint of personal taste, and they passed 
on, laughing. For he was at that moment absorbed 
in a problem. It was, how to see Rue Barr6e. She 
was somewhere or other in that big house with the iron 
balconies, and the door was locked, but what of that? 
The simple idea struck him to shout until she came. 
This idea was replaced by another equally lucid — ^to 
hammer on the door until she came; but finally, re- 
jecting both of these as too uncertain, he decided to 
climb into the balcony, and, opening a window, politely 
inquire for Rue Barrfie. There was but one lighted 
window in the house that he could see. It was on the 
second floor, and towards this he cast his eyes. Then 
moimting the wooden barri^ and clambering over 

271 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

the piles of stones, he reached the sidewalk and looked 
up at the fagade for a foothold. It seemed impossible. 
But a sudden fury seized him, a bhnd, drunken ob- 
stinacy, and the blood rushed to his head, leaping, 
beating in his ears like the dull thunder of an ocean. 
He set his teeth, and, springing at a window-sill, dragged 
himself up and hung to the iron bars. Then reason 
fled ; there surged in his brain the sound of many voices ; 
his heart leaped up, beating a mad tattoo, and, gripping 
at cornice and ledge, he worked his way along the fa- 
fade, clung to pipes and shutters, and dragged himself 
up, over and into the balcony by the Ughted window. 
His hat fell off and rolled against the pane. For a mo- 
ment he leaned breathless against the railing — then 
the window was slowly opened from within. 

They stared at each other for some time. Presently 
the girl took two unsteady steps back into the room. 
He saw her face — ^all crimsoned now — ^he saw her sink 
into a chair by the lamp-lit table, and without a word 
he followed her into the room, closing the big, doorlike 
panes behind him. Then they looked at each other 
in silence. 

The room was small and white; everything was 
white about it — ^the curtained bed, the httle waahstand 
in the comer, the bare walls, the china lamp, and his own 
face, had he known it ; but the face and neck of Rue 
Barr6e were surging in the color that dyed the blossom- 
ing rose-tree there on the hearth beside her. It did not 
occur to him to speak. She seemed not to expect it 
His mind was struggUng with the impressions of the 
room. The whiteness, the extreme purity of every- 
thing, occupied him — began to trouble him. As his 
eye became accustomed to the Ught, other objects grew 
from the surroundings and took their places in the cir- 
cle of lamp-light. There was a piano and a coal-scuttle, 
and a little iron trunk and a bath-tub. Then there was 

272 



RUE BARREE 

a row of wooden pegs against the door, with a white 
chintz curtain covering the clothes underneath. On 
the bed lay an umbrella and a big straw hat, and on 
the table a music-roll unfurled, an inkstand, and sheets 
of ruled paper. Behind him stood a wardrobe faced 
with a mirror, but somehow he did not care to see his 
own face just then. He was sobering. 

The girl sat looking at him without a word. Her 
face was expressionless; yet the lips, at times, trem- 
bled almost imperceptibly. Her eyes, so wonderfully 
blue in the daylight, seemed dark and soft as velvet, 
and the color on her neck deepened and whitened with 
every breath. She seemed smaller and more slender 
than when he had seen her in the street, and there was 
now something in the curve of her cheek almost in- 
fantine. When at last he turned and caught his own 
reflection in the mirror behind him a shock passed 
through him as though he had seen a shameful thing, 
and his clouded mind and his clouded thoughts grew 
clearer. For a moment their eyes met, then his sought 
the floor, his lips tightened, and the struggle within 
him bowed his head and strained every nerve to the 
breaking. And now it was over, for the voice within 
had spoken. He Hstened, dully interested, but al- 
ready knowing the end — indeed, it little mattered — 
the end would always be the same for him — ^he under- 
stood now — always the same for him, and he listened, 
dully interested, to a voice which grew within him. 
After a while he stood up, and she rose at once, one 
small hand resting on the table. Presently he opened 
the window, picked up his hat, and then closed the win- 
dow. Then he went over to tiie rosebush and touched 
the blossoms with his face. One was standing in a 
glass of water on the table, and mechanically the girl 
drew it out, pressed it with her lips, and laid it on the 
table beside him. He took it without a word, and, 
«8 273 



THE KING IN YELLOW 

crossing the room, opened the door. The landing was 
dark and silent, but the girl lifted the lamp, and, glid- 
ing past him, slipped down the polished stairs to the 
hall-way. Then, unchaining the bolts, she drew open 
the iron wicket. 
Through this he passed with his rose. 



THE END 



By ROBERT W. CHAMBERS 



CARDIGAN. lUustrated. $i 50. 

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